Opponents have argued that full-scale uranium mining and milling has never occurred on the East Coast and the new industry would create unacceptable risks to the environment and public safety. Virginia Uranium has said the concerns are overstated, and that mining and milling can be done safely using the latest industry practices.Ruff said Friday he had not discussed the issue directly with McDonnell, but had talked to the Republican's policy staff. He said his message was simple. "We have a representative form of government and legislation should be the way to go," Ruff said. Sen. John Watkins, a Richmond area Republican and the most outspoken advocate of uranium mining in the Legislature, withdrew a bill he proposed to establish state regulations overseeing the industry. It faced certain defeat in committee. He then asked McDonnell to use his executive powers to direct his departments to create the regulations. The General Assembly would still have to act to lift a 31-year state prohibition on uranium mining. ____ Steve Szkotak can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sszkotakap.