Virginia General Assembly to vote this week on mining banIf the US is to truly gain energy independence, it will have to invest more in building up its domestic uranium mining industry. But while the Obama administration has been politically and financially supportive of nuclear power development in the US, “they have been very quiet on uranium mining,” said Tom Drolet, principal of energy consulting firm Drolet & Associates Energy Services, in a recent interview with Andrew Topf, the Investing News Network's senior editor. When asked, as part of a September 2012 study prepared for the Nuclear Energy Institute, if they favor the use of nuclear energy in the US energy mix, two-thirds of American respondents indicated that they do. Yet because of the social and environmental impacts of oversights and limited regulation of the industry during the 1950s, mining of the nuclear fuel in the US is a politically contentious issue in some states. “Today's conventional uranium mills and in situ recovery (ISR) facilities are operating safely and in a manner that is protective of the environment,” according to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) website. The NRC coordinates with state and tribal governments, as well as other federal agencies, to regulate these facilities and provide “technical support and guidance to those Agreement States that have authority over uranium recovery activities.” However, many Americans still take a NIMBY approach when it comes to uranium mining — making it a thorny political issue for even the most seasoned politicians. State legislators in Virginia are weighing in on the debate this week as they vote on two bills that, if passed, will effectively end the 31-year moratorium on uranium mining in the state. Lifting the ban would allow Virginia Uranium, a subsidiary of Virginia Energy Resources (TSXV:VUI), to advance its Coles Hill project to the permitting stage.