Friday, November 30, 2012

Cows, Corn and Uranium Don't Mix

One of the things you learn when you show up in Richmond is the way that laws can affect people you never even think about. 

For example, when I put in my legislation to raise Virginia's lowest-in-the-United-States misdemeanor-felony threshold from $200 to $500 I thought I was home free when the VA Association of Prosecutors supported me along with the Attorney General.  Then I found out that the large retailers didn't like the idea and I got one vote on subcommittee. 

Similarly, some people came to be about being allows to hunt on a Sunday.  Hunting during the week outside of NOVA is no big deal because you just drive 10 minutes and you're in the woods, but for Northern Virginians who need to escape traffic, it usually takes the better part of a day and weekends are more convenient.  Turns out the major antagonist is The Farm Bureau - farmers like to have one day per week they can go out on their farm and not worry about dodging bullets from stray hunters.

During that debate, I discovered how influential The Farm Bureau is in Virginia.  While the majority of Virginia's delegates now hail from the suburbs, they still have a ton of pull.  They also speak for a significant sector of the Virginia economy. 

A marquee issue for this year is uranium mining.  I wrote about it here:

Virginia basically placed a moratorium on mining uranium after Three Mile Island.  The largest-known economically viable uranium lode in the United States is located in Southside Virginia.

Proponent says it will create 348 jobs in a hard hit part of Virginia.  Opponents say it can create effectively permanent damage to the drinking water supplies to a couple million people (Hampton Roads) if something were to happen. 

Yesterday, The Farm Bureau came out opposed to lifting the moratorium.  They represent 88 farm bureaus across Virginia and 146,000 farm families.  Apparently, the vote in the organization was overwhelming. 

Why did they oppose it:
“We’re not talking about something like a petroleum spill or something that can be cleaned up in a day, months or even a couple years,” he said. “We’re talking about something that could take decades or centuries to clean up that could have devastating effects on neighboring properties.”

Pretty much what I've been thinking.  There has been a perception that the long-term health of air and water is a partisan issue.  I'm starting to think that like the changes going on in the United States on other issues, there is a broader consensus on environmental issues than most people believe as well. 

The Farm Bureau weighing in against uranium mining is a big deal. 

1 comment:

  1. The Farm Bureau Federation spokesman thinks too narrowly. A spill into the Roanoke River would affect far more than "neighboring properties". It would potentially affect water supplies for much of tidewater VA and North Carolina.
    But the main problem is storage/disposal of the tailings. That may be a solvable problem. It shouldn't be dismissed. If the uranium isn't mined now, it'll be mined later, and the tailings problem won't change.