On December 2, 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Jackson L. Kiser dismissed the federal lawsuit by Virginia Uranium, Inc., and three affiliated companies against Virginia state officials over the company’s proposal to mine uranium in Pittsylvania County. Virginia Uranium was seeking to overturn the Commonwealth’s moratorium on uranium mining, which was established by the General Assembly in 1982. The case was in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, which has courts in Danville, Roanoke, and five other locations; the Web site for that District Court is http://www.vawd.uscourts.gov/.
Defendants in the lawsuit were Governor Terry McAuliffe, Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward, and eight state employees of the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the Department of Environmental Quality. Judge Kiser ruled that those defendants were not sufficiently connected to the 1982 enactment of the moratorium for them to be subject to the companies’ lawsuit. Judge Kiser also ruled against the companies’ claim that federal law on uranium mining should supersede the Virginia moratorium and give sole authority over the companies’ mining proposal to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Meanwhile, on November 25, 2015, Virginia Uranium filed a second lawsuit, this one in Wise County Circuit Court, alleging that the Commonwealth’s uranium-mining moratorium amounts to a “taking” of property without compensation, in violation of the Virginia Constitution. (Similar to the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Section 11 of the Virginia Constitution states, “…The General Assembly shall pass no law whereby private property….shall be damaged or taken except for public use. No private property shall be damaged or taken for public use without just compensation to the owner thereof.” The Virginia Constitution is available online at http://constitution.legis.virginia.gov.) Pre-trial motions and arguments in this lawsuit began in October 2016. In March 2017, Judge Chadwick Dotson announced that the lawsuit will go to trial on August 30, 2017.
Sources and ongoing list of news items (newest listed first):
Uranium lawsuit heading to trial in Virginia, Danville Register & Bee, 4/5/17.
State questions safety, profitability in uranium mining case, Danville Register and Bee, 12/20/16.
Judge hears arguments in second lawsuit over uranium mining ban, Roanoke Times, 10/7/16.
Federal judge dismisses lawsuit over Va. uranium mining, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 12/2/15.
Virginia Uranium files second suit over mining moratorium, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/25/15.
Virginia Uranium, state attorneys trade jabs in pretrial hearing, Danville Register & Bee, as published by Roanoke Times, 11/6/15.
Judge adds October court date to uranium case, Danville Register & Bee, 9/17/15.
River associations seek say on Va. uranium mining lawsuit, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/9/15.
Trial dates set for Virginia Uranium complaint, Danville Register & Bee, 9/1/15.
Virginia Uranium goes to court for right to mine, process nuclear fuel, Roanoke Times, 8/5/15.
Uranium company sues Virginia over the right to mine huge deposit, Washington Post, 8/5/15.
Other Water Central News Grouper items on proposed uranium mining in Virginia are available at this link: https://vawatercentralnewsgrouper.wordpress.com/category/mining-uranium/.