Lt. Gov. Bolling Announces Opposition to VA Uranium Mining

DANVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is taking a stand against uranium mining in Virginia, citing the "chilling impact" it could have on business recruitment and jobs in Southside Virginia.

The Republican was to make the announcement with business leaders in Danville on Friday. His position is significant because he is the McDonnell administration's job creation czar and casts the tie-breaking vote in the Senate.

Virginia Uranium Inc. has made job creation a key part of its argument to end a 30-year ban on uranium mining in Virginia so it can tap a 119-million-pound uranium deposit in Pittsylvania County.

Bolling says he talked with residents and business owners on the Southside before coming to his decision.

"I think it's important that we be very sensitive to how people in this region of the state who will be the most impacted by this decision feel about it, " said Bolling.

He said there are too many questions regarding the environmental impact of uranium mining and milling. He also cited strong mining opposition among area members of the General Assembly.

Read the complete press release on Bolling's opposition to uranium mining:

"Over the past year much has been written about the proposal to lift the ban on uranium mining and milling in Virginia. Advocates on both sides of this debate have done an effective job advocating their point of view. I have listened carefully to this debate, and after a great deal of consideration I have come to the conclusion that the Virginia General Assembly should maintain the ban on uranium mining and milling in Virginia.

"My opposition to removing the ban on uranium mining and milling is based on three primary concerns:

"First, I am concerned that removing this ban could have a chilling impact on our efforts to recruit new business, industry and jobs to Southern Virginia, and it could also have a harmful impact on numerous existing businesses in the region. Over the past three years we have worked hard to get the economy of Southern Virginia back on track, and we should not do anything that could work at cross purposes with the progress we have made.

"Second, even though two well respected organizations have completed reviews of the efficacy of removing the ban on uranium mining and milling, I believe there are still too many unanswered questions regarding the potential impact that an incident at the mine might have on the environment and, subsequently, citizens in Southern Virginia and beyond. Given these legitimate environmental concerns, I believe the ban on uranium mining should remain in place.

"Third, almost every member of the Southern Virginia delegation of the Virginia General Assembly opposes removing the ban on uranium mining, and the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce has expressed its opposition to removing the ban as well. If political and business leaders in the region that could benefit the most from uranium mining believe the ban should stay in place, politicians in Richmond should not lift the ban against their wishes.

"While the advocates for uranium mining have highlighted the potential economic impact of a successful mining operation, and I am sensitive to those arguments, it is my belief that there are just too many unanswered questions, and the potential for adverse economic and environmental impacts is too great, to remove the ban."