Much has been said in recent weeks about Virginia’s energy needs for the future. That future certainly includes the appropriate and effective use of solar power and wind energy. These sources, however, are not as readily reliable as nuclear, gas and coal.
My answer to fulfilling the needs of Virginia is "all of the above," says Senator John Watkins of Virginia's 10th District. We must encourage energy development of all types.
Currently, we are faced with purchasing many fuels for electric energy generation from sources not only outside of Virginia, but indeed outside of this country. In order to remain competitive on a global basis we must work diligently to keep energy costs down.
We are blessed in Virginia with huge deposits of coal which must be a primary source for decades to come, but we must push to ensure that clean coal technologies are the path of the future for that resource.
Future need for fuels from all sources is the primary reason that Virginia needs to explore, and, where feasible, provide appropriate regulatory structures for, off-shore oil and gas drilling, off-shore wind turbine development and extraction of uranium for fuel source development in this country.
In that regard, at the end of this month, I will be participating in a two-day informational tour of uranium mining operations in the Athabasca Region of Saskatchewan, Canada. In addition to observing various aspects of ongoing mining operations, we will be briefed by Canadian government officials with responsibility for overseeing the industry.
The trip was organized and paid for by Virginia Uranium Inc., in Chatham, Va., where the largest undeveloped uranium deposit in North America exists. I cannot stress strongly enough the necessity for trips such as these. It is my responsibility to gather the information and educate myself to ensure my votes are made on the facts. It is a responsibility I take very seriously. I and my colleagues in the General Assembly are also awaiting the completion of a comprehensive study by the National Academy of Sciences on the safety and health, and environmental impacts, of uranium mining.
The results of this study will play a crucial role in whether or not legislation would be initiated that would direct Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to develop regulations that would allow a company to apply for a permit to develop the resource.
And, while wind and solar power cannot be produced as economically as coal or nuclear, we owe it to ourselves and future generations to continue exploration and development of these renewable energy resources.
I would strongly recommend that, if you have the opportunity, you review the OP/ED article entitled “Renewable Energy: Too Cheap to Meter?” by A. Barton Hinkle, in the Sept. 13th issue of the Richmond Times Dispatch.
I have been involved in energy regulation over the past 20 years. It is an area of critical concern from an economic standpoint as well as jobs and quality of life. The decisions I may make affect more than just my loved ones, they will affect ALL of the citizens of the Commonwealth.
It is my pledge, if reelected Nov. 8th, to continue to work towards efficient and effective energy development in Virginia.