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Virginia Uranium v. McAuliffe

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20229
Nos. 4:15-cv-00031, (W.D. Va., 12/02/2015) (Kiser, J.)

A district court dismissed a uranium company's lawsuit that the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) preempts a Virginia law that prohibits any state agency from accepting applications for a permit to mine uranium. The company filed suit against the governor, two cabinet members, and various officials affiliated with the state's environmental and mining agencies. But the governor, the cabinet members, and environmental agency officials are immune from suit as they are insufficiently connected to the challenged conduct. And the company's preemption claims fail. The state law prohibits a Virginia agency's acceptance of a permit application to mine uranium and, proximately, prevents conventional mining of nonfederal uranium deposits. The AEA regulates none of these activities or materials, institutes no permitting regime respecting nonfederal uranium deposits' conventional mining, and does not otherwise regulate nonfederal uranium deposits or their conventional mining. Nor does the ban obstruct in any meaningful way the realization of Congress' purposes and objectives behind the AEA.