Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Creigh Call Quickie: redistricting, uranium mining

From "Vivian Page" Blog...

I got a chance to chat with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds a bit ago. He’s in the midst of his Deeds Country tour and I got tired just listening to all the stops he’s making as well as those coming up :)

In our brief phone call, we talked about two issues: redistricting and uranium mining, the former because it is an issue that is near and dear to my heart and the latter because a friend of mine wanted to know where he stood on it.

Deeds has been an ardent supporter of bipartisan – preferably, nonpartisan – redistricting, having sheperded legislation through the Senate over the past several years, only to see it killed in the House of Delegates. Deeds assured me that he intends to amend and/or veto restricting bills that come out the legislature until he gets what he wants in a fair redistricting bill. He pointed to the precedent of former Democratic governor Doug Wilder.

Wilder, in 1991 with a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate, vetoed a redistricting bill that did not include enough black districts. Deeds said that any redistricting bill should take into account the principles of compact, contiguous districts, among other things.

While he is not discounting the possibility that Democrats may gain the six seats necessary to obtain a majority in the House – he said that he is “impressed with the quality of the candidates” and rattled off the names of a number of them running in districts around the state – he told me he is more concerned about fairness.

I asked about uranium mining, a topic that I’m not too familiar with. Fortunately for me, Deeds is. He mentioned that he practiced law in Danville in the early to mid 1980s and became quite knowledgeable about the issue during that time. (For some background, take a look here.) Deeds said that energy independence is a part of our national security so he believes in a comprehensive approach, and nothing should be taken off the table. He said, though, that he is not convinced that we have the technology to make such mining safe.

Deeds said, when the issue came up in committee, he asked two questions, one he knew the answer to and the other he didn’t. The questions were:

  1. What about the terrain in Pittslyvania County has changed?
  2. What about the science has changed?

The answer to question #1, which Deeds already knew, was nothing. The terrain is such that the mining may very well contaminate the groundwater and not just in Pittsylvania County. The problem could very well extend beyond, down to Hampton Roads.

As for #2, he would like to see a study done by the National Academy of Sciences. Such a study has been authorized but so far, the NAS has balked at doing it. They want the state to pay for it – as of now, the private sector would pay for it – and they want the request to come from the Commonwealth, as opposed to from a General Assembly committee.

The other issue is that of radioactive waste. Deeds was quite concerned about this, saying that radioactivity lasts forever, and even if the technology exists to clean it up – which he was very skeptical of this being the case – the stigma of having radioactive waste in an area may be too much to overcome.

Unless the technology exists to make uranium mining safe, I think I understood Deeds’ position to be that he would not support it.


It was obvious to me that these two issues were ones which Deeds was quite passionate about. They are issues that he’s put a lot of thought into in coming to his own conclusions about.

Thanks to Senator Deeds for the call. I hope we will be able to do this regularly over the course of the election cycle. Deeds will be in Hampton Roads next week. Maybe I’ll get a chance to do the call in person

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