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Cuccinelli is echoing uranium mine advocates’ talking points when he calls for regulations.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Asked whether they favor a uranium mine in Southside, the two men likely to face off in this year’s gubernatorial campaign promise to give the issue some thought.
But while Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is adjusting his thinking cap, he wants Gov. Bob McDonnell to move forward with the development of mining regulations as if the project were a done deal.
It most certainly is not. Legislators this winter chose to preserve a 1983 mining moratorium. The senator who patroned a bill to establish regulations killed his bill before his colleagues could do it for him.
In the aftermath, Virginia Uranium Inc., the company seeking to make a profit from a deposit of the ore in Pittsylvania County, has pressured the lameduck McDonnell to pursue regulations over the objections of the legislature.
It’s notable that Cuccinelli, who has collected $7,500 in the past two years from the mining company, echoed its talking points when he told the Associated Press that draft regulations “would clarify what would be involved and would eliminate any uncertainty prior to the General Assembly’s decision.”
Legislators did not reject the mine because they had no regulations to read. They left the moratorium in place because lawmakers representing Pittsylvania and surrounding counties concluded that their constituents did not want a mine in their community.
A National Academy of Sciences study warned that Virginia faces “steep hurdles” in protecting public health and the environment. The state would need a great deal of money and a staff of international experts to offer even minimal protections. Words on paper are no substitute.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe does not join Cuccinelli’s call for wasting taxpayer dollars on pointless regulations. “That’s putting the cart before the horse,” he said in a statement. “I haven’t been convinced that uranium can be mined safely. I wouldn’t support spending time and energy creating regulations for something that has not been proven to be safe or able to be cleaned up completely.”
Both men will and should be pressed for more details about their opinions. For some voters, it could be the controlling issue determining their decision in the election. They shouldn’t allow either candidate to duck the issue by foisting it off on McDonnell.
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