On January 31, Virginia State Senator John Watkins of Powhatan (R-10th District), requested that the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources (ACNR) Committee and the Senate Finance Committee strike his two bills that would have, in effect, lifted Virginia’s moratorium on uranium operations in the Commonwealth. Both committees unanimously approved the motion to strike the bills, ending the bills’ chances in the Senate. The bills were SB 1353 (in ACNR), which called for developing regulations for uranium mining in Pittsylvania County, and SB 919 (in Finance), which would have established a three-percent state severance tax on gross receipts of any uranium mined in Virginia. Companion bills introduced into the House of Delegates— HB 2330 (for SB 1353) and HB 1804 (for SB 919)—are now expected to be removed from consideration, too, given that they would likely face a similar defeat in the respective Senate committees. Details of General Assembly bills and their status are available at the Virginia Legislative Information System Web site, http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm. After the action in committee, Senator Watkins stated that he is requesting Governor McDonnell to direct state agencies to develop regulations that would govern future uranium mining, and Virginia Uranium, Inc. (which proposed the uranium operation in Pittsylvania County), stated that they plan to continue to pursue the project.
Click here to listen to the Senate ACNR committee action to strike SB 1353 on January 31, 2013 (3:43). Heard in the clip are Senators Emmett Hanger (chair), John Watkins, Frank Ruff, and Donald McEachin.
Following are several January 30 and 31 news accounts of the Senate action and the prospects now for the Pittsylvania County uranium mining/milling proposal.
Uranium bill dead on arrival in Senate, Roanoke Times, 2/1/13
Uranium-mining proposal suffers major defeat, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/1/13
Uranium mining proposal dies; supporters appeal to governor, Lynchburg News & Advance, 1/31/13
End of the road for uranium in Virginia?, Washington Post, 1/30/13