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Toeing the Democratic line on uranium mining

Certain Republican members of the resident political class are intent on keeping the ban on uranium mining in place [1], and thus deprive their constituencies of the economic benefits such mining would bring. Their reasons for doing so vary. However, considering the Obama administration’s decision to ban any new uranium mining [2] near the Grand Canyon — and the reasons given for it — one is forced to wonder whether some Virginia Republicans are taking their cues, and talking points, from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Or worse, from Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey:

The Obama administration is banning new hard rock mining on more than a million acres near the Grand Canyon, an area known to be rich in high-grade uranium ore reserves.

The decision, announced Monday by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, hands a victory to environmental groups and some Democratic lawmakers who had worked for years to limit mining near the national park, one of the nation’s most popular tourist destinations.

“When families travel to see the Grand Canyon, they have a right to expect that the only glow they will see will come from the sun setting over the rim of this natural wonder, and not from the radioactive contamination that comes from uranium mining,” said Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, the senior Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee.

Western Senate Republicans aren’t pleased [3] about this ban at all:

“This administration has proven incapable of using even the slightest bit of common sense when it comes to lands policy,” said Senator Mike Lee. “The American people are desperate for jobs, and our domestic energy industry provides some of the best paying jobs in the western states. However, the President and Interior Secretary Salazar are intent on appeasing their friends in the extreme left wing of the environmentalist movement during an election year by locking up as much land as possible, regardless of the negative effects on our economy. For energy production that has long been safe and responsible, the announcement represents a needless overreaction to a fictitious problem.”

Lee, John Barrasso, Orrin Hatch, John McCain — these Republicans get it right.

Their lesser cousins in Virginia could learn something from their example. But they are likely too busy to take notice of what’s happening out in those distant square states to the west. Too busy toeing the Obama administration’s line on mining, that is…