In another attempt to subvert the democratic process in Virginia, Gov. McDonnell is attempting to sidestep the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences and the will of Virginians by rushing through the proposal on uranium mining and milling and shutting out stakeholders who have already accumulated expertise and information on this matter. The point of taking the decision to allow uranium mining and milling out of the hands of the legislature was to give the Uranium Working Group time to resolve some of the most serious concerns brought up by the possibility of mining and milling for uranium in Virginia.
Instead, the governor has taken the decision out of the hands of the legislature in order to circumvent the democratic process and a very uncertain future for this issue in Virginia’s General Assembly.
Gov. McDonnell has continuously made two contradictory statements. The first is that his administration will pursue an “all of the above” strategy for energy, referring to any source of energy that can be extracted and used will be. Contrarily, McDonnell claims that if the energy source in question poses a known risk to human health, his administration will not pursue it.
The risks posed by uranium mining and milling are unmistakable, and even more so in a climate like Virginia’s that has never witnessed uranium mining. Thus, any risk assessments undertaken must be magnified by the level of uncertainty that accompanies any assessment of a brand new situation for risk.
McDonnell either doesn’t care about the risks involved or has convinced himself (or has been convinced) that the risks posed are negligible. But if McDonnell has taken this advice, it has most likely come from sources that stand to gain from uranium mining and milling in Virginia, an obvious reason not to take these sources without a grain of salt.
Virginians know why the nuclear option has completely overshadowed the sensible clean energy avenues: the influence of lobbyists on both the executive and legislative branches in Virginia. But Virginia’s politicians can no longer shrug their shoulders and intone that this is simply the way the game is played. Government’s purpose is to promote the public interest, not the interests of a self-serving few.
For my own part, I will make sure to live long enough to ensure that Virginians remember Gov. McDonnell for what he really is, a spineless politician who put the interests of his pals ahead of those of the state of Virginia. Way to go, Bob!