State agency committee report confirms Virginia is not ready for industrial-scale gold mining
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va — After nearly a year of study, a state agency committee formed as part of a work group to evaluate the impacts of gold mining on public health and safety in Virginia released its findings.
In a December 1, 2022, report to the Governor and General Assembly, the state agency committee highlights the significant concerns communities have about the potential impacts of industrial-scale gold mining on environmental justice communities, public health, and the environment in the Commonwealth.
With the release of the report, Harvey Shelton, a Buckingham, Virginia resident who has been an active member of the environmental justice fights his community continues to face, expressed a desire for his community and others to stay continue following the issue.
“We would encourage local governments to take action and protect residents’ way of life and the environment. Clean water and air are rights for all that everyone should be working to protect,” Shelton said.
The report also incorporates a November report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) committee. The two committees comprised the work group tasked with exploring the potential impacts of gold mining in Virginia by HB2213 (2021). Ultimately, both committees found that Virginia’s current regulations are not appropriate for gold mining.
Stephanie Rinaldi, a member of the state agency committee and Coordinator of the Press Pause Coalition said the NASEM and state agency committee findings depict the realities of commercial gold mining.
“I hope that legislators take the time to understand and address the inevitable harms that will occur if commercial gold mining takes place in the Commonwealth,” she said.
SELC Staff Attorney, Carroll Courtenay, said the state agency report ultimately raises more questions than answers about the future of gold mining in Virginia.
“Over 160 public comments were submitted to the state agency committee, and none supported large-scale gold mining in the Commonwealth. Virginians are right to be skeptical—not only are there already serious legacy pollution issues that need to be addressed, but current state regulations are wholly inadequate to protect the public and environment from the impacts of this industry.”
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