State lawmakers could face the debate again in January, but on Monday morning, students at the Roanoke Valley Governor's School took on the issue of uranium mining in Virginia.
Students in Sherry Otruba's environmental science classes have been studying the pros and cons of uranium mining for the last few weeks. They've heard from a member of the General Assembly, and from representatives of Virginia Uranium and the Piedmont Environmental Council.
Monday they served up some passionate arguments for and against.
Jacob Dove said he believes the state can safely allow uranium mining. "The environmental risks are really something that can be managed quite extensively," Dove told us in an interview, "because there's a lot of mining experience in places like France, Canada, Australia. "
Cameron McCarty sees potential for problems on the Coles Hill property in Pittsylvania County, because of the state's climate. "We get 42 inches of rain per year," she said. "If the waste were to get into any of the streams or rivers or if there was a lot of rain in a short period of time, then it could get into the water and contaminate it."
Fred Hoffman retired last June after teaching high school physics for more than 40 years. He returned to lead a simulation of the legislative process that combined geography with an important issue of public policy.
"It wasn't just homework," he told us. "I think some of them are very impassioned to try and deal with this and follow what's going to happen. Uranium mining is an issue, Hoffman noted, the students might one day confront as voters.
So how, did the vote on Monday?
The students voted in favor of lifting the moratorium on uranium mining, with 33 in favor and 27 against.