Regulatory Inroads into Uranium Mining

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    Don’t let the brilliance of this suggestion made by VA Sen. John Watkins (R-Midlothian) blow you away: the VA General Assembly may analyze VA’s regulatory structure of the uranium mining industry before a decision is made to lift the “moratorium” on uranium mining. Brilliant indeed! Well Sen. Watkins, first things first. If special permits are to be granted for uranium mining operations and a strict regulatory structure is to be promulgated, the agency(s) in charge will actually need the appropriate funds and manpower to undertake these charges. In our current political environment, who in the General Assembly is willing to spend extra on these important components of a lift on VA’s uranium mining moratorium? Further, how long will this budgetary largesse last?

    Perhaps, instead, the General Assembly decides to shift money from other, no less important programs, to fund the regulation of uranium mining. Where will the money be taken from, children’s cancer research, infrastructure upgrades, afterschool programs? The possibilities are limitless!

    Oh, of course, the windfall profits from uranium mining will pay for all of these regulatory mechanisms put into place and then some. Windfall profits? What evidence is such an assertion based upon? A French case study or even perhaps one from New Mexico? I’m not convinced that windfall profits are an inevitable consequence of uranium mining in VA.

    What is most ironic about the “regulatory debate” is it is being discussed most ardently by the party that proclaims itself to be for small government and minimum bureaucracy. Yet, they say, another bureaucratic element will have to be created to regulate uranium mining, and a fairly active bureaucratic element at that.

    While the hypocrisy might be funny in another time and place, the consequences of uranium mining are no laughing matter. Maybe in another world these elected officials and their business cronies put as much effort into protecting human and environmental health as they do in making an extra buck.