With the news that Virginia Uranium will pay for a study to determine the future of uranium mining in Virginia, this very major issue now moves into the realm of the absurd.
The acquiescence of the government of the commonwealth to this situation is stunning in its stupidity and bald-faced corruption.
Our elected officials have shown little judgment and even less common sense in this decision. The fate of their careers as elected officials must be in doubt.
Every state-wide representative who did not stand up to oppose this corrupt bargain has abrogated his responsibility as a guardian of the people's interest. They are unworthy of our votes and have earned our collective disdain.
I am sure the National Academy of Science is indeed a "neutral" organization through which to conduct this study, bought and paid (quiet literally) by our Canadian friends and their cadre of wealthy local and foreign investors.
The scientists at Virginia Tech would never think of the opportunity to use Pittsylvania County as a laboratory and its citizens as guinea pigs in their investigations of the affects of uranium mining on the environment east of the Mississippi.
They are responsible individuals first, and scientists second. In fact, this new relationship could be the beginning of several new National Academy/Virginia Tech studies.
Let's see what else they could do. Here's one: "The Feasibility of Bank Bailouts as a Means of Helping the Economy."
That one would be paid for by Wachovia and Bank of America. I wonder what the National Academy of Science would find?
Here's another: "The Positive or Negative Effects of Socialism in America."
That one would be funded by the American Communist Party. I am sure the folks at Virginia Tech will come up with a fair and balanced conclusion.
Finally, in the area of sports we have, "Steroids: Good or Bad for Baseball?" This one has the financial backing of Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.
I am on tenterhooks awaiting that conclusion.
Pardon my sarcasm, but I fear the deck is stacked against Pittsylvania County. Is this the sad fate that must play out over the next two decades?
The "study" will conclude that uranium mining is safe "under certain circumstances."
The fine print of the extreme conditional approval will be ignored by the uranium industry and they will embrace the study as definite "scientific" proof that all is well.
Mining regulations will move swiftly through the hapless House of Delegates; mining will begin with a flourish of heady pronouncements about employment and the economic prosperity that is headed our way.
Blasting activity will begin; tailing ponds will be dug; all will move quickly forward. Then, somewhere down the line, there will be an economic (price of uranium falls) or environmental (water ruined) catastrophe.
Government and uranium industry officials will throw up their hands and declare that no one could have foreseen this (remember Katrina?), and they are not to blame.
The mines will close; the investors will go silent and Virginia Uranium will creep back to its Canadian homeland.
By that time, the people of Virginia will be left to tend the mess that Virginia Uranium began: the two 800-foot holes in the ground; the ruined landscape, poisoned water and contaminated air.
Unemployment will rise, now that tobacco and non-mining businesses have long left the area. Taxes will rise; land values will fall.
The National Academy will assert the fine print of its study (i.e. that mining probably could not be done successfully) and the scientists at Virginia Tech will have their laboratory and guinea pigs just down the road from them in Pittsylvania County.
My father used to say that if you can't pay for something, you can't buy it. If the Commonwealth of Virginia cannot pay for a study, they should not have one.
Virginia Uranium is a biased funder; the conflict of interest is so apparent that it is embarrassing for a private citizen to have to point this out to officials who should know better.
If Virginia cannot pay now for a study of this sort, how are they going to pay for the regulation and upkeep of the area once mining begins? Where will that money come from?
Until these basic questions are answered completely, all citizens of good faith must remain opposed to any study of any kind paid for by the very people who profit from its slanted outcome.
We shall and must regard the findings of this tainted study, and the people who support it, with a cynical and suspicious eye.