Supreme Court upholds Virginia’s ban on uranium mining

Today the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Virginia Uranium, Inc. v. Warren, upholding Virginia’s 37-year-old uranium mining ban. The ban had been challenged by Virginia Uranium, which sought to mine a large uranium deposit in Pittsylvania County. 

“We have long supported Virginia’s decision to protect its communities from the environmental and economic risks of uranium mining,” said Southern Environmental Law Center Senior Attorney Mark Sabath. “We are pleased that the Court respected that decision and recognized that it was one for Virginia to make.”

SELC filed an amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” brief in the case on behalf of the Roanoke River Basin Association, Dan River Basin Association, and Piedmont Environmental Council, arguing that regulating mining has traditionally been an area of state—not federal—authority. 

The mining company, backed by the Trump administration, had argued that in banning uranium mining, Virginia had interfered with the federal government’s exclusive authority under the Atomic Energy Act to regulate uranium processing and radioactive waste management. The Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit.

SELC previously filed amicus briefs in support of Virginia in the lower courts, and has also been at the forefront of a statewide citizen effort, the Keep the Ban Coalition, to turn away legislative efforts to repeal the state’s uranium mining ban.

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