Wednesday, March 4, 2009

'Grateful' Legislators Can Be Voted Out of Office

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 8:45 AM EST
Chatham Star-Tribune

To the Editor:

How utterly delightful that our elected representatives, Virginia State Senator Robert Hurt and House Delegates Danny Marshall and Don Merricks, have chosen to send a very public thank-you note to Terry Kilgore, chairman of the Virginia Coal and Energy Commission.

They even headed up the letter with "Put it on the Web!"

Personally, I'm so thankful that they represent us! Come voting time, I will remember their support of a group of officials that does not include any representation from Pittsylvania County, Virginia's largest land mass county - the ground zero test site for overturning the state's moratorium on the mining and milling of uranium.

I will especially remember that Senator Robert Hurt's father is an investor in Virginia Uranium Inc.

I will remember that Senator Hurt has not recused himself from voting in the past for an "unbiased study" by the state to determine if uranium mining and milling would be harmful to our area and the rest of Virginia.

Sure, the Senate's Rules Committee okayed his not recusing himself from voting for the study last year.

After all, he and his investor father do not live under the same roof and are not dependent upon each other financially.

Big "but" coming: Doesn't an appearance of a conflict of interest apply here?

I'm also dismayed over former Congressman Virgil Goode taking $73,650 from the coal industry, an industry overseen by elected officials such as the Virginia Coal and Energy Commission.

Knowing this industry's use of mountaintop removal/surface blast mining for coal removal is responsible for the destruction of 470+ mountains along the Appalachian Mountain chain (formerly intact communities and homes of fellow Americans), I decided not to vote for Goode and cast my vote for Tom Perriello.

Silly of me to jump party lines and cast my vote for this reason? Seems I wasn't the only voter dissatisfied with Goode because he lost his congressional seat.

I've met and spoken to his successor, Tom Perriello, and asked that he represent and protect the rights of the citizenry of this state - not those of profit-driven corporations.

Whatever the outcome of this "unbiased, scientific study" on uranium mining and milling for the state of Virginia, I truly feel Southside Virginia is well on its way to being mined and polluted by an industry that has done so, recklessly, for decades.

Virginia Uranium Inc.'s promise of "new and safe mining technology" runs contrary to the multitude of articles and headlines noting the past and ongoing pollution in many midwestern and western U.S. states: Arizona, California, Nebraska, Utah, Colorado, North & South Dakota, Oregon, New Mexico, Wyoming, Washington state, Texas. And that's just in the USA.

Doesn't the fact that these states seek millions in federal funding to clean up and remediate the environmental damage done to land and water sources by uranium mining and milling corporations speak volumes?

Will the promise of jobs and the posting of bond money by Virginia Uranium to remediate any future harm to the environment allay our fears that our rights won't be protected?

As Virginia citizens, shouldn't our right to live, work and rear families in a safe environment be a given?

Does remediate really mean restore, as in pre-mining conditions?

Or, does it mean living with radiation progeny and heavy metals contamination of the land, water and air, during and post-mining?

Will we have to move away from this area as many around Coles Hill have stated they will do in order to protect our families?

Once the moratorium is lifted, other parts of this uranium-rich county will be open to other mining companies like Virginia Uranium and its Canadian partner/owner, Santoy.

Seems to me, if we voted our elected officials in to protect our rights and interests as citizens, we can surely vote them out when we feel they've put the interests of corporations before ours.

Perhaps a hand-written note of thanks would have been the better choice for this grateful group of elected officials.

Anne Cockrell
Alliance member


1 comment:

Irene said...

In her comments regarding the US legacy of mining, Ms. Cockrell confuses the content of "headlines" (and their underlaying text) with facts. Average US media are no longer particularly circumspect with the factual basis of what they print.

Habitual employment of heuristics is not the same as forming judgments on the basis of observation and analysis.