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Coal and Energy Commission backs uranium mining

SoVaNow.com / January 07, 2013
The Virginia Coal and Energy Commission voted Monday in Richmond to support legislation that would create a regulatory framework for uranium mining and milling in Pittsylvania, in effect throwing its support behind efforts to lift Virginia’s three-decades-old ban on the industry.

The vote by the panel, which advises the General Assembly on coal and energy issues, was 11-2, with abstentions. “No” votes were cast by Del. Don Merricks of Pittsylvania and Ronnie Smith, a citizen member.

The vice-chairman of the commission, State Senator John Watkins (R-Powhatan), also has said he will introduce a bill during this year’s session to regulate uranium mining. At Monday’s meeting of the commission, Watkins revealed that the proposed legislation will apply only to Pittsylvania County.

The commission includes five senators, eight delegates and seven citizen members. The chair is Del. Terry Kilgore (R-Scott County). There are four Republican and one Democratic senate members, and seven Republican and one Democratic delegates.

Legislators and other panel members backed Watkins’ bill although it is still being drafted.

Watkins also said Monday that he intends for the legislation to come before the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee. Opponents are pressing for the legislation to go to the natural resources committees in both houses, which are considered less likely to approve mining.

This story will be updated.

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