Shortly after being elected, our Governor-elect made a surprising announcement. He said that he will veto any legislation that lifts the moratorium on mining uranium in Virginia. The announcement was surprising because he, like the other candidates, had been circumspect about the issue during the campaign. None of them would take a definitive position. Mr. McAuliffe, it seems, had been holding his cards close to his vest.
The announcement was, of course, great news for us. There is a major uranium deposit just a few miles from our farm. The bill introduced during the last session of the General Assembly, and scheduled to be introduced again this year, was to allow that deposit (and that deposit only) to be mined and milled. The radioactive tailing were to be buried here, in our community. The Canadian mining operation behind the scheme spent millions of dollars on public relations and campaign contributions to influence legislators, and it had acquired a significant number of legislative supporters from both parties. Our delegation, and every community from here to the coast, held firm and stayed united. But we knew we were in for a major battle this year. Mr. McAuliffe’s announcement doomed the pro-uranium team, however. And now they’ve retreated.
Facing a certain veto even if they could get a bill passed, Virginia Uranium has announced that it is suspending its operations and lobbying. Presumably we’re safe for at least the next four years.
Obviously we aren’t going to let our guard down. As long as someone stands to make billions of dollars from the mining, the risk will remain.
But at least for now we’re very happy to have prevailed.