With a flood of new federal regulations hitting everything from healthcare, energy, food safety, and bird protection, it is encouraging to know that some states can still think for themselves. In Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell, while campaigning, declared that he was going to make Virginia the Energy Capitol of the East Coast—after all Virginia is blessed with abundant energy resources such as coal, offshore oil and gas, and one of the largest uranium deposits in the world. His plans have been thwarted by the federal government.
The EPA is trying to regulate coal mining out of existence. Federal restrictions have prevented Virginia from being able to access its offshore oil and gas resources—despite bipartisan support within the state for drilling. However, on Monday, January 7, McDonnell was handed an opportunity to differentiate himself from President Obama—something all upwardly mobile Republicans are going to have to do following the disappointing fiscal cliff deal.
With just one year left in his term, the rising-star Republican governor can still make good on his campaign promise. Under his control is uranium mining in Virginia.
Virginia has maintained a moratorium on uranium mining for more than 30 years. It has never happened in the state—as a result, there are no guidelines or regulations for how to do it. The environmental lobby, that opposes extraction of anything, has been able to keep the moratorium in place by maximizing the fear of the unknown. While McDonnell didn’t initially come out in favor of uranium mining—instead dodging a decision by having studies done and commissions appointed, he has come to realize that the environmentalists just don’t want any extraction. During at 2012 radio interview he sounded frustrated when he said: “These people don’t want us to even study it. They’ve made their decision. They’ve made up their mind that they don’t want us to look at it. They don’t want us to study it. They don’t want us to have any mining going on. That’s just ridiculous. What I want to do is just get the facts. I don’t have a decision made. They do. Our job—at the direction of the General Assembly—is to get the facts and to determine ‘can we mine it safely?’”
Well, the facts are in.