Things are a bit tense here these days, as the General Assembly is about to begin consideration of a bill that will authorize uranium mining and milling in our county. The proposed site is less than ten miles from our farm. A uranium extraction operation here would be devastating to our community. On a personal level it would destroy the dream I’ve worked for for most of my adult life. At a minimum I’d hoped to leave our children and grandchildren the land my family has worked and loved for a couple of hundred years at least as well as it was when the responsibility for it passed to me. Now I can’t be sure what we’ll be able to leave them.
It is hard for me not to be angry about what is happening. If our community was in favor of this, believing it would bring jobs and prosperity, I’d disagree, but I would understand how the legislature might pass the bill. But our community and all of Southern Virginia is united in opposition to the bill. All of our legislators (Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal) oppose lifting the ban, as does our Chamber of Commerce and nearly every civic group that I can think of. That this could be forced on us by other parts of the state is both infuriating and insulting.
One of the arguments opponents have been making is that removing the ban will subject other communities in the state, not just ours, to the perils of uranium mining. So to eliminate that argument the drafter of the bill has now modified it to provide that it will lift the ban to permit uranium mining and milling in our county only. In his words, “This isolates it to Coles Hill.” When asked why he would limit it to only one place in the state he responded, “Because I want the bill to pass.”
We are in one of the poorest parts of Virginia. We don’t have the money or political power of other parts of the state.
We are being treated like a mere economic colony of Northern Virginia and Richmond.
Hopefully the legislature will do the right thing. I don’t like thinking about what will happen if they don’t.