The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recently launched its five month public outreach effort in Danville, VA to “brief” the VA public on its recently released report on uranium mining, as required under the NAS agreement with Virginia Tech. As most of us know, however, Gov. McDonnell shrugged off this breathing period to take the numerous studies into consideration when he penned an executive order directing the creation of legal and administrative regulations for the milling and mining of uranium. So much for stakeholder education and input.
As the NAS report concluded that no technology currently exists that is capable of eradicating every risk and uncertainty involved with uranium mining, waste storage and processing, Gov. McDonnell must be assuming that the benefits outweigh the risks or that the risks are so minimal as to be of no consequence. If so, what is Gov. McDonnell basing his conclusions off of? The usual pseudo-science that the VA GOP has become adept at pulling out of thin air?
For a political party that lauds its ideological roots in Jeffersonian democracy and all that it implies, Republicans like McDonnell appear to have an ambiguous attitude towards the judgment of the people of Virginia. When were Southside Virginians asked if they wanted uranium mining and milling in their backyards? When was the public outcry in Virginia over uranium mining formally taken into account by the McDonnell administration? Why is the framework to mine and mill uranium being constructed well in advance of public input over the NAS report on uranium mining? The public, it seems, doesn’t know what is good for themselves but luckily for Virginians, McDonnell and his administration does.
As with so much else regarding the McDonnell administration, foolish policy positions abound. Instead of moving Virginia towards clean energy, his administration has determined to keep the people of Virginia stuck in a haze of fossil fuel-filled air. Not content with the dangers posed by the combustion of fossil fuels to the health of Virginians, the McDonnell administration is also seeking to turn Virginia into a toxic wasteland. But maybe the clean-up effort will create jobs (extreme sarcasm here)? The job-creation possibilities are endless and so is Gov. McDonnell’s short-sightedness and ambition to turn Virginia into the “energy capital of the East Coast” at the potentially high cost of the lives and livelihoods of innumerable Virginians.