From the Virginia Sierra Club. At this point, just about every newspaper editorial board in Virginia has weighed in against state legislators taking this $10,000, all-expenses-paid, unethical (and illegal in most states) junket to France on the uranium industry’s dime. There are at least three major issues here: 1) the question of whether Virginia legislators should have to abide by any ethical standards at all, such as those followed in these states (and no, “dislosure” is not sufficient, for a wide variety of reasons); 2) whether we’re comfortable with the enormous influence corporations and lobbyists have over our legislative process, including wining and dining our legislators, heavily influencing which bills move forward and which bills die, and even writing their own bills to regulate their own industries; and 3) the specific issue in this case of uranium mining, which is what the Sierra Club focuses on.
For my part, I feel strong about all three issues: 1) Virginia legislators should have to abide by the highest ethical standards, as opposed to the essentially zero ethical standards they’ve got now; 2) corporate influence in Virginia government (and America more broadly) is completely out of control and needs to be reined in, big time; and 3) uranium mining, as the Sierra Club points out, “has never been mined safely. Ever.” Other than that, these $10,000, all-expense-paid trips to France on “Air Uranium” are a great idea! Heh.
You’ve probably heard in the news this week that 14 Virginia legislators have accepted an all-expense paid trip to France from Virginia Uranium. At the same time, more than 150 citizens from across the Commonwealth have attended a summer workshop series to learn about the impact that uranium mining will have on Virginia.
These legislators accepted a nearly $10,000 first-class junket to France from the uranium industry and are calling it a “fact-finding mission.” As stated by the Washington Post this week, “…this is no impartial fact-finding mission to assess the safety of uranium digging. There are no diverse or opposing viewpoints that legislators will hear during their tours.”1
Here is the real story. Uranium has never been mined safely. Ever.
Uranium mining operations in France ceased in 2001, yet the toxic legacy left by the mine sites still exists today. By-products of uranium mining can still be found throughout the region and the government, not the industry, largely foots the bill of shutting down these mines.2
This has left a costly and toxic legacy in France that threatens their health, heritage and local agricultural economy.
While we can’t afford a $10,000 trip to France, local citizens are willing to open their modest homes, and more importantly, share their stories with any legislators that would like to visit the community of the first proposed mine site.
Make sure your legislator listens to more than industry talking points. Ask them to get the facts and Keep the Ban on Uranium Mining today.
Thanks for all you do.
Virginia Sierra Club Grassroots Organizing Manager
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