Virginia’s Uranium Mining Battle Flips Traditional Views of Federal and State Power
The Supreme Court will decide in 2019 whether a Virginia law that bans uranium mining is preempted by the Atomic Energy Act, the U.S. law governing the processing and enrichment of nuclear material.
The case, Virginia Uranium, Inc. v. Warren, will require the court to interpret laws governing nuclear fuel production. But its most significant, long-term impact might be the glimpse it provides into the court’s view of the proper balance between federal regulatory power and the rights of states in setting their own policies.
I have been involved in this case in its various iterations for more than a decade. Before joining the faculty at the University of Virginia School of Law, I worked with the Southern Environmental Law Center, an environmental advocacy organization that had raised grave concerns about a proposed uranium mine near the city of Danville.