Richmond, VA - In these next few weeks, the General Assembly will decide the fate of uranium mining in Virginia. And Monday, two days before the session starts, legislators have already started making headlines.
With a large majority, the coal and energy commission voted to move forward with uranium mining legislation; and opponents to uranium mining did not stay quiet.
When the vote came down, one woman in the crowd yelled to the commission members, "Your names will live in infamy."
Monday, critics and advocates turned out in large numbers at the General Assembly building, both sides prepared for a fight.
"There are a lot of good examples of safe uranium mines," said Buddy Mayhew, pro-uranium mining.
"This is a major decision for the commonwealth," said Bill Axselle, anti-uranium mining.
This showdown has been an entire year in the works. Last January, Governor McDonnell formed a working group to study uranium mining in Virginia. Now, that study is in the hands of the coal and energy commission, and in the public's target.
Richmond, VA - The Virginia coal and energy commission took one step closer Monday to lifting the ban on uranium mining in the commonwealth.
After Monday's majority vote, legislators will now move forward drafting a bill, which would establish a regulatory framework should the General Assembly lift the moratorium on uranium mining.
The General Assembly session begins Wednesday.
"It's a decision that has consequences not for decades, not for generations, but forever," said Axselle.
There's concern mining and milling uranium now will lead to polluting our environment and health in the future.
Uranium supporters say, look at the facts, look where uranium's been mined before; they say it's safe.
"They did not find one iota of evidence that uranium mining negatively impacted property values, business or tourism in those regions," said Patrick Wales, pro-uranium mining.
Supporters say uranium mining can bring good-paying work and an economic boost to the state's struggling southside. For opponents, the money's not worth the risk to public health.
Legislators voted Monday to take a step toward uranium mining. But, let's not forget, that bill has to survive a tough General Assembly session. Uranium mining's been banned since the 80s.