Unless you’re a member of the Cole family or one of Virginia Uranium Inc’s (VUI) underwriters, you’ve probably noticed the intense rainfall VA has received over the past two months. In line with these precipitation numbers, a report released on September 26, 2011 confirms what many Virginians have suspected: “pervasive flooding regularly occurs throughout the proposed mine and mill site at Coles Hill.” Surprise, surprise, you may say. However, it doesn’t appear that everyone looks at the scientific facts in the same way that those of us in the real world do.
Indeed, the study requested from the National Academy of Sciences has been seen by some Virginians as a political smokescreen that members of the General Assembly can hide behind when they cast their “Yes” vote to lift the uranium moratorium in VA. For better or for worse, though, you cannot hide behind the human and environmental effects that such a legislative move would inevitably bring to those in southern VA (and maybe elsewhere). The only problem for Virginians is that many of these “Yes” legislators will have long since left public office when the disasters strike.
Maybe members of the General Assembly and VUI will use the straw-man argument of jobs. I asked Senator Steve Martin about how many of these alleged jobs would be created and still have not heard back. This isn’t a shocker. Even if there were copious numbers of jobs to fill, Virginians, on the whole, don’t even have the expertise to undertake many of the more technically demanding uranium mining jobs. So what would be left by way of jobs for Virginians? More than likely the most menial, technically non-demanding jobs will be open to Virginians. Not exactly a rosy job picture. But a job is a job right? Wrong.
A job is not just a job. Individuals like Gov. McDonnell have spouted the “job creation” line so many times that they probably believe that every job is created equal. In order to move Virginia forward, into the 21st Century and beyond, our political leaders and Virginians themselves must strive to create jobs that will move Virginia forward technologically, socially, and economically. That is, more jobs in IT, education, health care, science, engineering, and others that fall outside the sphere of the nuclear, coal, and natural gas sectors. These industries do not represent Virginia’s future. They are, instead, a crippling reminder of just how far in the past we still are.