Voter Split On Lifting Uranium Mining Ban Is Opportunity For Proponents

The Saint ReportAggregates/Mining, Energy, Politicians and Planning, saintblog0 Comments

By Christopher M. Hopkins
Senior Vice President, Aggregates and Mining
The Saint Consulting Group

Nearly 30 years since Virginia imposed a statewide moratorium on uranium mining, a new poll shows the ban remains a hotly contested political issue.

Forty-one percent of registered voters favor ending the ban, and 41 percent are opposed, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of 1,434 Virginia voters completed June 27.

The National Academy of Sciences is currently conducting a study that will result in a recommendation to the General Assembly on whether or not to lift the ban. Virginia Uranium is lobbying legislators to lift the ban so it can mine what is believed to be the largest deposit of uranium in the United States.

When public opinion on an issue like this is so equally divided, it is the perfect situation for proponents to conduct aggressive community outreach. That outreach should include meetings with perceived favorable business groups in an effort to build momentum though organizations around the state, and continued lobbying of legislators who remain on the fence.

It also would benefit the effort to strategically target legislative districts of influential members of the state Assembly. Several smaller campaigns can be run simultaneously in these districts, regardless of their proximity to the proposed uranium mine in the southeastern part of the state. These campaigns would attract support for the mine among voters in the targeted districts. These voters would then voice their wishes to their delegate and state senator.

Grassroots lobbying and a good field organization are traditionally believed to impact an election by three to five percent. In a theoretical statewide tie, that additional five percent would make an incredible difference.

The Virginia Assembly will ultimately vote on whether to lift the ban — and having key legislators pushed by their constituents to support ending the moratorium will be absolutely crucial with such a provocative and divisive issue.

A link to Washington Post story on the survey results: Read the Article

Christopher Hopkins is senior vice president for aggregates and mining for The Saint Consulting Group, email hopkins@tscg.biz, phone 615 656 3794

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