A lot of folks in Virginia have no idea that the Commonwealth has large deposits of uranium. It can be a very lucrative money maker for Virginia. The thing is, the Virginia government says it cannot be mined. You can explore it, but not extract it. At least not yet.
The Virginia Assembly has taken up the issue again this session. It seems doubtful that the moratorium will be lifted. If you want to read more about it, and every Virginian should, start with the Virginia Uranium Inc. There is also a great post over at the Chathouse Chat blog detailing recent events in Richmond.
What strikes me as odd are the arguments coming from Republican opponents of the lifting the moratorium. Some of these folks are the same people who urge the federal government to allow offshore oil and natural gas drilling. The Republican Party of Virginia should be supporting all efforts to develop new markets, including uranium extraction.
If your a conservative Republican, then you should have an ideological core that puts faith in markets, not governments. Why would VUI do things to damage its reputation, business or the environment? Moreover, why deny a region of Virginia that needs economic development the ability to develop a market that will create jobs and income?
The ongoing debate on this issue reminds me of the never-ending discussions our elected folks have in Northern Virginia about traffic issues. Most of it is based on emotion, not sound science or public policy. For example, I still do not understand why we built the hot lanes on 495.
Taxpayers already pay to build and maintain our roads. Now folks are going to pay again just to avoid traffic? What about a tax rebate for folks who use the hot lanes? Why should they pay twice?
It is still in the nascent phases, however, Virginia has a shot of becoming a nuclear energy leader. Just like we have a shot at becoming a leader in the Mid-Atlantic for commercial space flight (you did not know about MARS did you?).
We should focus on creating an economic environment that helps our region grow. Stop obsessing about roads. There is more to Virginia policymaking that paving.
Dig baby dig.