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SCOTUS Upholds Virginia Ban on Uranium Mining

Posted By Mark Ellis, Tuesday, June 18, 2019

This week the Supreme Court issued a split decision holding that Virginia’s decades-old ban on uranium extraction does not conflict with federal law that puts the federal government in charge of safety oversight for uranium and other radiological materials.  Virginia Uranium Inc., a company intent on developing what may be the largest untapped uranium deposit in the country, challenged Virginia’s 1982 prohibition arguing that the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 gives the Nuclear Regulatory Commission exclusive oversight over radiation safety issues.  While the court acknowledged that the Act gives the NRC significant authority over the milling, transfer, use and disposal of uranium, as well as the construction and operation of nuclear power plants, it is silent about its authority over the extraction of uranium.  In the absence of federal preemption, that silence gives Virginia law preeminence.  The decision upheld federal district court and U.S. Court of Appeals decisions that previously held in Virginia’s favor.

The decision is attached.

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Tags:  state mining ban 

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