Heartland Institute Experts React to Vote to Allow Uranium Mining in Virginia

The Virginia Coal and Energy Commission today voted 11-2 (with three abstentions) to lift the 31-year-old moratorium on mining for uranium, a recommendation limited only to Pittsylvania County and subject to approval by the General Assembly.

The vote came three days after The Heartland Institute released and circulated heavily in Virginia a new policy study titled Uranium Mining in Virginia: Environmental and Safety Considerations. Heartland Institute experts also spoke at several open meetings in 2012 on the question of lifting the moratorium.

The following statements from energy policy fellows and advisors at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

“It is a great day indeed when a government body listens to science in making decisions that impact a state’s economy in a positive way. That is what occurred today when Virginia officials recommended lifting a long-held moratorium on uranium mining within its boundaries.”

“Virginia is home to what will likely prove to be one of the world’s largest uranium ore finds and certainly among the largest in the United States. Concern for the environment and public health has held up the development of this resource for many years. Reports were written, data was acquired, and the clear conclusion was that this resource can be mined to the benefit of the state and the nation with absolutely no hazard to the state’s environment or the health of either the citizens of the state or the mine and mill workers. Strict regulatory programs will be in place on the part of both the federal and state governments to ensure this very positive outcome.”

“At a time when our nation’s 104 nuclear power plants have been dependent on foreign sources for nuclear fuel, this is an important and positive development for our nation and the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Jay Lehr
Science Director
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

Jay Lehr, who holds a Ph.D. in groundwater hydrology from the University of Arizona and is editor of the Nuclear Energy Encyclopedia, is the author of the Heartland Institute Policy Brief titled Uranium Mining in Virginia: Environmental and Safety Considerations released January 4, 2013.

“Under the leadership of the Coal and Energy Commission Chairman, Del. Terry Kilgore, and Uranium Mining Subcommittee Chairman Del. Lee Ware, the vote to recommend lifting the moratorium is a resounding endorsement for Virginia’s ability to safely and effectively mine uranium.”

“It demonstrates awareness and commitment to science and modern technology to extract our natural resources in a responsible manner. Lifting the moratorium will put Virginia in the forefront of providing energy security and affordable electricity to the Commonwealth and the nation.”

Alexandra (Sandy) Liddy Bourne
Executive Director
American Energy Freedom Center
[email protected]

“Congratulations to the General Assembly panel for standing up for Virginia’s economic future. The overwhelming 11-2 vote shows that after all the science was presented, it is clear that uranium mining is safe for human health and the environment.”

James M. Taylor
Senior Fellow for Environmental Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“Today’s decision to lift the 30-year old moratorium on uranium mining in Virginia is a great victory for jobs and the economy. Hopefully, now Gov. McDonnell will keep his campaign promise and move Virginia toward being the ‘Energy Capital of the East Coast.”

“Uranium mining in Pittsylvania County could create 1,000 jobs, $5 billion in new revenue for Virginia companies, and $110 million in local and state tax revenue. With the global uranium market surging – 430 nuclear power plants worldwide and 65 new reactors under construction (with more planned) – more uranium is being consumed than is being mined. Uranium mining in Virginia will not only help the state, it will also help the U.S. trade deficit.”

Marita Noon
Executive Director
Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy
[email protected]

“The Coal and Energy Commission’s announcement is neither a win for uranium mining proponents nor is it a setback for the anti-mining community. Today’s true winners are the citizens of Virginia.”

“By recommending that the Virginia General Assembly lift the Commonwealth’s uranium mining moratorium, the commission stood strongly for science-based policymaking and individual property rights. Sound regulations will ensure public health and safety, while simultaneously allowing individual property owners to develop their land as they see fit.”

“It is now the General Assembly’s responsibility to stand with confidence and support the Commission’s findings. A vote to lift the moratorium on uranium mining is a step forward towards Virginia’s future by creating hundreds of jobs.”

Jack Spencer
Senior Research Fellow, Nuclear Energy
The Heritage Foundation
[email protected]

“Today, a panel voted in favor of economic opportunity in Virginia and across the country. This vote signifies that Virginia is ready to move forward with developing appropriate regulations to protect workers and the environment and reap the benefits of uranium mining.”

Todd M. Wynn
Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force Director
American Legislative Exchange Council
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 29-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.