For some reason this doesn't surprise me: according to today's Danville Register & Bee, two members of the uranium mining subcommittee have received contributions from Virginia Uranium Inc.
I blogged last week about the subcommittee's constraints on dialog at their Chatham meeting. The subcommittee was not interested in hearing about whether VUI should pursue mining, but only what questions they should ask in the mining study. Chatham residents (who, by the way, have no elected representatives on the subcommittee) had to play nice and only ask what they were allowed to ask. That was maddening enough. But here are the money quotes from Sen. John Watkins (R - Midlothian) when asked about whether he should return the money:
“I’m not going to give it back,” he said. “Why should I?”...Watkins doesn’t deny allegations from mining opponents that the subcommittee is pro-mining.“We’re part of the Coal and Energy Commission, I mean come on,” Watkins said. He added that he wasn’t speaking for all the subcommittee members, noting some may be less pro-mining than others.
I'll just let that quote sink in for a moment. Did Watkins go to the Rod Blagojevich school of media messaging? I guess it's easy for an elected official to make a statement as arrogant as that one if he's not accountable to the people it affects. It doesn't matter whether someone in power is a Democrat or a Republican (both parties have taken money from VUI anyway); hubris is hubris. But it's okay, because he assured us that being pro-mining doesn't mean being anti-environment, and uranium mining is merely a natural consequence of industry. I don't know about you, but I always believe politicians who embrace conflicts of interest.
This is not just about a uranium mine anymore--this is about democracy. Chatham is in the process of being steamrolled by politicians they did not elect. In most countries we call that tyranny.