Uranium Mining Equals Jobs in Virginia
One Virginia family owns land that sits above 119 million tons of uranium ore. If the government decides to take a little respite from their perpetual micromanaging binge, Virginians could see $5 billion in net economic benefits over the life of the mine. $143 million a year for the next thirty-five years is one heck of a long-term shovel ready project! There’s hope yet, as the decision lies in the hands of the Virginia Legislature, not Washington.
Unfortunately, Heritage’s Jack Spenser and Katie Tubb give the sobering reminder that “as soon as the word “uranium” or “nuclear” is introduced, the debate quickly becomes clouded by purposeful misinformation, decades of cultural bias, and manipulation by special interests.” This is despite the fact that “uranium mining is not that different from other mining, such as for coal and titanium that is conducted in the U.S. and around the world very safely. There is no reason that the result cannot be the same in Virginia.”
The National Academy of Sciences produced a study with some good information regarding uranium mining, but it lacks context and can be easily manipulated to conclude that the mine project should not proceed. The study had a number of limitations, not the least of which was that it was by design a negative analysis “that purposely offered no beneficial consequences of uranium mining and was essentially irrelevant to what was specifically being proposed in Virginia.”
One statement in the report that “pro-ban” people ignore is that “the impact of these activities in Virginia will depend on site-specific conditions, the rigor of the monitoring program established to provide early warning or contaminant migration, and the efforts to mitigate and control potential impacts.”
Uranium mining can be done safely with the appropriate regulations in place and when lessons are learned from both the positive and negative past experiences of other mining projects. While safety is of course a priority, the positive economic benefits of uranium mining must not be ignored either.
“Mining will create hundreds of much-needed, well-paying jobs directly with the mine, and many indirectly as a result of increased prosperity and economic activity. These are private jobs created by private investment.”
Thankfully Virginia is not in the same position as Arizona:
“By mandate of the federal government, the state of Arizona must control the challenges of uranium mining by not mining at all and thus also forfeit the benefits of doing so. Free of that federal yoke, the Virginia General Assembly should construct a regulatory system that not only allows citizens to steward their own property, but also protects public safety with a standard of excellence worthy of emulation.”
As we have seen all around the country, states that buck the federal government’s ominous regulatory regime can overcome President Obama’s infamous “headwinds.” By implementing a responsible and job friendly regulatory regime for uranium mining, Virginia could do the same.