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Supreme Court Debate Could Have Impact on Uranium Mining in Virginia

AP Photo / Steve Helber

The fierce debate about filling the vacancy on the United States Supreme Court is likely to have an immediate impact here in Virginia.

Uranium mining has been a controversial subject in Virginia politics for years. Owners of land near the North Carolina state line tried to get the General Assembly to overturn a ban on uranium mining several years ago. But that effort fell flat. Now they’ve given up on the political track and are taking their fight to Supreme Court.

Will Cleveland at the Southern Environmental Law Center says Virginia has every right to protect its environment.

“The environmental impacts of moving tens upon tens of millions of tons of rock around and digging a massive hole in the ground have all sorts of potential impacts to water tables, water quality and just the quality of life in general.”

It’s not just the landowners who stand to profit who want to overturn the ban. The Trump administration is weighing in on behalf of the land owners.

Carl Tobias at the University of Richmond Law School says that’s probably why the issue is now before the court.

“The solicitor general said that there was federal preemption on this issue, and so that’s I think the argument that interested the Supreme Court.”

And, Tobias says, the issue could come down to a tie vote among the eight sitting justices. That means the tie-breaking vote could be Brett Kavanaugh if he’s confirmed by the Senate.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
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