Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Virginia Uranium’s money won’t trump the value of our voices

by Laura Cascada

Recent reports reveal that Virginia Uranium, Inc., the company responsible for unrelenting efforts to lift our state’s 30-year ban on uranium mining, spent $572,607 lobbying Virginia officials last year.

This is the most money of any lobbying group in Virginia, as much as the next two top
spenders, Dominion Power and Altria, combined.
This doesn’t include hundreds of thousands of dollars more in sponsorships to Southside
Virginia Little League teams and money paid to interns standing outside businesses with misleading petitions promising jobs.
All that cash, despite that this summer, uranium prices spiraled to a seven-year low of about $35 per
pound. If under a worst-case scenario, uranium mining reached $45 per pound, an analysis authorized by the Virginia Coal and Energy Commission predicted an $11 billion loss statewide.
Potential water contamination with radioactive materials from mining could cripple downstream communities—including Southside’s
360 million and Virginia Beach’s $1.3 billion tourism industries reliant on clean water.
Sierra Club, through the Keep the Ban coalition, has continued to counter VUI’s dirty money with
powerful citizen voices heard from the Blue Ridge to the beach. We’ve traversed the state, collecting thousands of petition signatures, drumming up support of local businesses, and churning out letters to the editor.
In July we worked with the Southside organization, We the People of Virginia, to turn out hundreds

of people to a screening of a new documentary film, Hot Water, which

portrays harrowing stories of citizens

across the country whose families have been decimated by cancer in the aftermath of uranium mining. Filmmaker Liz Rogers was so inspired by the fervor of those fighting to protect
Virginia that she brought along her film crew to capture a segment to be inserted into the film and screened around the state later this fall.

Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms joins us in September at an event to reinvigorate our efforts
in South Hampton Roads, where the risk of water contamination is so great that each city has passed a resolution supporting the ban.

As VUI continues to exert pressure on the governor to create a regulatory framework for mining, we are solidly cementing the support of our allies for the battle ahead.

If you haven’t already, please give Governor McDonnell a call at 804-786-2211 and urge him not to draft regulations for uranium mining.

You can also reach out to local businesses and organizations and ask them to sign on to help defend the ban.
Contact me at Laura.Cascada@

sierraclub.org to get involved.