Federal Court Rejects Virginia Uranium Mining Ban
Feb 22, 2017 09:46 AM EST
A federal appeals court rejected a Virginia company's lawsuit to abolish the state's decades-long ban on uranium mining on Friday. The company's ulterior motive is to tap a huge deposit of the radioactive ore.
According to WTOP, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond affirmed the ruling of a district judge, who threw out a lawsuit from Virginia Uranium Inc in December 2015. The company pitched to launch mining over a 119-million-pound deposit of uranium beneath the rolling hills of Southside Virginia.
The hills, also called Coles Hill, contains the largest known deposit in the United States. According to the ruling, Virginia Uranium argued that the federal Atomic Energy Act, enacted in 1946 primarily to promote nuclear power, should re-empt the state's mining regulations.
However, the courts disagreed. "The General Assembly has long maintained a moratorium on the mining of uranium in the Commonwealth for the safety and well-being of our residents, lands, and waterways," Attorney General Mark Herring who hailed the ruling, said in a statement. "This ruling affirms that the Commonwealth is well within its rights to regulate mining activities."
The company has heavily lobbied lawmakers over the years to remove the mining ban that has been in place since 1982. However, the efforts were suspended after the election of Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe who clearly displayed his support towards the moratorium, according to The Washington Post.
Virginia Uranium argues that the ore can be safely mined and that much revenue and job opportunities would be generated from the mining operation around the struggling Southside region. The company has estimated the value of the Coles Hill deposit at $6 billion.
Meanwhile, Virginia Uranium has not responded to the ruling. The company, however, has filed a separate lawsuit in a state court, with a trial date to be decided soon.