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McDonnell non-committal on uranium regulation / August 15, 2013
Danville Register & Bee
Reprinted with permission

Gov. Bob McDonnell says he has not decided whether or not to use the Administrative Process Act to create regulations for uranium mining and milling.

In 2012, McDonnell formed the Uranium Working Group to examine the potential promise and pitfalls in lifting the 1982 moratorium. The General Assembly declined to take up the issue in January, when a bill to lift the moratorium died in committee. At the time, Sen. John Watkins, R-Powhatan, asked the governor, in an open letter, to use Virginia’s Administrative Process Act to go forward with writing regulations for the uranium mining industry, which would lift the moratorium.

Answering questions Monday after speaking at the groundbreaking for Dan River Plants in Ringgold, McDonnell said, “Until the General Assembly removes the moratorium, regulations won’t be written.”

However, pressed if that meant he would not be using the Administrative Process Act to move forward with regulations, McDonnell said he had not decided.

“I think that you could use the APA and regulatory process to come up with a construct,” McDonnell said. “We’ve come close to doing that already in the report that my team put out last year. It’s not in regulatory form, but it basically gives a blueprint for what regulations would look like. Many legislators have told me, ‘We’d like you to take that to the next step, take the science and research you’ve done and write regulations so we could see them before we vote. That’s not an unfair request and several people have asked me about that. There’s a number of others down here that say, ‘We don’t even want you to study it.’”

The governor added, “So we’re still looking at that, but I’ve got a full plate of things we’re trying to do now to implement major K-12 reforms and a game-changing transportation bill. It’s just balancing what I think is most important right now.”

In December, the group presented its final report, but McDonnell has largely remained mum on the subject.

“If it can be mined and milled safely, I think we ought to do it, and if it can’t, I think it shouldn’t,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of reading of the reports and I think it’s more likely than not that it can be done safely. Ultimately, that decision was up to the General Assembly. The study commission felt that it could, but it did not draw the support during the session. It’s taken us 32 years just to get to today from the last time it was considered.

“It’s a trade-off between public safety and economic development. Generally, I say err on the side of public safety, and so I’ve read most of the reports and there are never guarantees when you mine dangerous minerals. That’s true with natural gas, coal, oil… there’s always been issues that have come up. This is a uniquely different material so I think the safeguards have to be done higher.

“But I thought that the significant research that was done laid out a pretty good road map through a regulatory process that showed certainly that with the right science and the right regulatory scheme that it could be done safely.”

Jackson reports for the Danville Register & Bee.

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Has he received any "loans" from Virginia Uranium like the ones he got from Star Scientific?


I have been tracking the threat of uranium mining in Virginia for a very long time. But I am having difficulty in understanding the "Administrative Process Act". If anyone would kindly explain.


This Governor has placed Virginia back on the best financial footing that it has been in decades. He is the most thoughtful politician that I have met. He sincerely cares about people. The gifts from Star were all given back ,wheather right or wrong. For sure he would not be the first politician to accept a gift. At least he is studying the Uranium issue, not like the Dunavant Zombies of Halifax County!


Would he be a "zombie" if he decided to ban uranium mining?


Or would he just be a slow learner?


You are usually required to give the "gifts" back if you are the politician caught accepting them.


1. Not if the Gov. used facts to make his decision. Jack says"You never let the facts get in the way."
2. See the Dunavant Zombies for slow learners.
3. He HAS returned the "gifts."


Gifts, loans, bribes. But hey who's keeping track. The bar doesn't seem to be set real high for politicians anymore. Maybe next time the butler won't spill the beans.


Great movie," The Butler."
You are correct about the height of the bar, be it local, state or federal. And it is very hard to keep track.


My apologies to the butler. It was the chef who spilled the beans.

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