The proposal to lift Virginia's 31-year ban on uranium mining died yesterday in the Virginia Senate's Agriculture Committee. The bill's sponsor, Sen. John Watkins, R-Powhatan, asked for the measure to be stricken.
The nose count indicated that between 9 and 12 members of the 15-member committee opposed the measure. A companion bill remains in the House, but its prospects appear dim even if it makes it to the Senate. One of the legislators leading the fight against lifting the 31 year-old moratorium on uranium mining in the Commonwealth said, "the action we took today effectively kills uranium mining anyplace in Virginia until at least the middle of the century." Newspaper reporters covering the story said that they had rarely seen such an outpouring of organized public opposition to a measure and that they were somewhat surprised that a coalition of small farmers, local officials in the area, and environmentalists had overcome the money and lobbying campaign of Virginia Uranium, Inc., which had 20 lobbyists -- one for every 7 members of the General Assembly -- working full-time on the issue for more than a year.