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- A proposed uranium mining and milling operation in Pittsylvania County has been back in the news lately. On February 1, the City of Virginia Beach released its study of the potential impacts on the city’s drinking water supplies if the proposed mine were to be flooded. According to a news release from the city, the “impacts to the drinking water supplies would be significant but not permanent after a worst-case storm.” Meanwhile, on February 7 in Richmond, about 200 people attended a public-comment meeting held by the National Research Council’s committee studying the potential health and environmental impacts of the proposed uranium operation. The Richmond hearing was the fourth by the committee, with future ones to take place in Denver in March and Saskatoon, Canada, in June. The committee’s report is expected in December. For the mine to proceed, the Virginia General Assembly would have to overturn a moratorium on uranium mining in the Commonwealth. News sources: Virginia Beach Releases Results of Uranium Mining Study, City of Virginia Beach news release, 2/1/11; Beach study warns of risk if uranium mine floods, Virginian-Pilot, 2/2/11; Panel weighs lifting ban on uranium mining in Virginia, Virginian-Pilot, 2/8/11; and Uranium debate heats up in Richmond, Danville Register & Bee, 2/9/11. The Web site for the National Research Council study is http://www8.nationalacademies.org/cp/projectview.aspx?key=49253.
- From the Virginia General Assembly: Senate Bill 1190, sponsored by Sen. Thomas Norment from Williamsburg, would expand the Virginia "Right to Farm Act" to include aquaculture. Some York County elected officials and residents are opposed to the bill, claiming that it would infringe on local land-use prerogatives and allow processing facilities that could reduce nearby residential property values. After an amendment to apply the law only to piers from land already zoned for agriculture, the bill passed the Senate on February 8 and moved to the House of Delegates. News sources: Feud over oyster farm turns into hot-button issue, Virginian-Pilot, 1/28/11; and Modified 'oyster bill' advances over York objections, Virginian-Pilot, 2/8/11. Senator Norment is a Republican from the 3rd Senatorial district.
- On February 7, the U.S. secretaries of Interior and of Energy identified four areas off the coasts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey that will receive quicker environmental reviews of proposed offshore wind-energy projects. One of the four sites is a 165-square mile area about 20 miles from Virginia Beach. The announcement also included a pledge by the Interior Department to spend $50 million in the next five years to facilitate development of offshore wind energy. The site designation is part of a federal initiative announced in November 2010 that seeks to reduce the time needed for siting, permitting, and constructing wind-energy projects off the Atlantic coast. News sources: Salazar, Chu Announce Major Offshore Wind Initiatives, U.S. Interior Department News Release, 2/7/11; Feds fast-track mid-Atlantic offshore wind energy, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/8/11; Feds plan to quicken wind power reviews, Virginian-Pilot, 11/24/10; and Salazar Launches ‘Smart from the Start’ Initiative to Speed Offshore Wind Energy Development off the Atlantic Coast, U.S. Interior Department News Release, 11/23/10.
And finally, here’s a lightning-fast look at other recent stories:
- The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is using a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant to work with Shenandoah Valley farmers to fence cattle out of streams in three Valley watersheds.
- On February 1, Governor Robert McDonnell told coal-industry executives that Virginia is considering whether or not to intervene in a lawsuit by West Virginia against U.S. EPA policies on depositing material from mountaintop mining into streams, a practice known as “valley fills.”
- Also on February 1, the State Corporation Commission heard Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative’s permit request for a proposed 50-megawatt, $175-million power plant in South Boston that would use waste wood for fuel.
- And one more General Assembly note: In order to reduce nutrient pollution to Virginia waters, both the House and Senate have passed bills that would prohibit sale in Virginia of lawn-maintenance fertilizer containing phosphorus and of de-icing products using nitrogen-based urea.
News sources (listed in order of headlines’ presentation): Progress Down on the Farm, Bay Daily, 2/4/11 (the three watersheds are Cooks Creek, Lower Dry River, and Muddy Creek; McDonnell: Virginia is prepared to protect coal, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/2/11; Supporters tout biomass-burning power plant at SCC, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 2/1/11; Opinion: Menhaden industry succeeds again, Virginian-Pilot, 2/1/11; Chemical ban would help clean bay, Daily Press, 2/1/11 (the bills are HB 1831 in the House and SB 1055 in the Senate).
WATER SOUNDS AND MUSIC
This week’s selection provides a gentle reminder of the upcoming tax season, as this song was composed in honor of Virginia’s Non-Game Wildlife Tax Check-off: “Little Brown Bats Eating Mosquitos,” performed by Timothy Seaman on his 2004 CD “Virginia Wildlife,” from Pine Wind Music. In addition to the tax deadline, spring also marks another ominous event: the return of mosquitoes. These insects breed in a wide variety of still-water habitats. Their biting habit is annoying and spreads disease, but on the positive side, mosquitoes provide food for other aquatic insects, fish, birds, and—as reflected in the title of this song—bats. Contributions by Virginia taxpayers through the Non-Game Wildlife Tax Check-off help protect the habitats of many non-game animals, including Little Brown Bats. Mr. Seaman did the “Virginia Wildlife” CD in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to celebrate Virginia’s natural resources and support non-game wildlife programs. For more information about the CD, visit https://www3.dgif.virginia.gov/estore/proddetail.asp?prod=VW219. Information about mosquitoes was taken from “Mosquitoes and Water,” in Virginia Water Central, June 2009, available online at www.vwrrc.vt.edu/watercentral.html. Information about voluntary contributions for Virginia taxpayers through various check-offs is available from the Virginia Department of Taxation at http://www.tax.virginia.gov/site.cfm?alias=voluntarycontributions.
UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS
First, in Virginia government policy and regulatory meetings, occurring between February 17 and February 23.
- On February 17, at 1 p.m. at the Department of Environmental Quality, or DEQ, regional office in Glen Allen, is a meeting of the State Water Control Board’s Technical Advisory Committee on the general permit for nitrogen and phosphorus discharges and for nutrient trading in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. For more information: George Cosby at (804) 698-4067 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The committee is assisting the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality on reissuance and possible amendment of 9 VAC 25-820. The Notice of Intended Regulatory Action appeared in the Virginia Register of Regulations on September 14, 2009.
- Also on February 17, at 7 p.m. at Louisa County Middle School in Mineral, the State Water Control Board holds a public hearing on a draft permit for surface water impacts in King William and Louisa counties from construction of a proposed new reactor at Dominion Power’s North Anna Nuclear Power Station. For more information: Sarah Marsala, (703) 583-3898 or email@example.com.
- On February 22 at 9:30 a.m., the Marine Resources Commission meets in Newport News. For more information: Jane McCroskey, (757) 247-2215, Jane.McCroskey@mrc.virginia.gov.
- Also on February 22, at 6 p.m. at the Lancaster County Board of Supervisors meeting room, the State Water Control Board holds a public hearing on designating certain creeks in Lancaster County and Northumberland County as federal No Discharge Zones. For more information: Margaret Smigo, (804)527-5124 or Margaret.Smigo@deq.virginia.gov.
- February 17, 6:30 p.m. at the DEQ office in Virginia Beach, on the TMDL study for dissolved-oxygen-impaired sections of the Northwest River watershed in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.
For more information: Jennifer Howell, (757) 518-2111 or Jennifer.Howell@deq.virginia.gov.
- February 23, 7 p.m. at Northampton County Middle School in Machipongo, on the TMDL implementation plan for bacteria-impaired sections of the Kings Creek watershed in Northampton County. For more information: Jennifer Howell, (757) 518-2111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- On February 25, at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia Clean Cities is holding a Hydrogen Seminar for Virginia Decision Makers. Participants will discuss hydrogen-fuels research, use, and policy. For more information: (540) 568-8896 or email@example.com.
- And on February 26 at Fauquier High School in Warrenton, the Rapidan Chapter of Trout Unlimited is having its annual fishing show. The event is a fundraiser for the chapter’s restoration and educational projects, including the popular Trout in the Classroom program.
For more information about government policy and regulatory meetings, click here for the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall. Click here for Virginia General Assembly legislative committee and commission meetings. For TMDL meetings, click here for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality TMDL Web site (please note that TMDL meetings are also listed at the Town Hall site, but are included among all other meetings). Organizations, events, or both are hyperlinked whenever possible. Click on those links for more information.
Show notes and production assistance were provided by Patrick Fay. Emily Whitesell wrote this week’s Water Sounds and Music segment. Recording assistance was provided by the Office of University Relations at Virginia Tech.
Opinions expressed on this show are not necessarily those of the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, Virginia Tech, or our broadcasting stations.
If you need more information about anything mentioned this week, call us at (540) 231-5463, or visit our web site at www.virginiawaterradio.org.