AG Curtis Hill: U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision In Virginia Case Involving Uranium Mining As A Win For Indiana


The U.S. Supreme Court rightly protected states’ sovereign powers by rejecting an energy company’s efforts to overturn a decades-old Virginia statute banning uranium mining, Attorney General Curtis Hill said today.

The Virginia legislature enacted a ban on uranium mining in 1982, and in 2015 Virginia Uranium Inc. sued to challenge the ban, claiming it violated the federal Atomic Energy Act.

The Atomic Energy Act does not give the federal government any authority over uranium mining, but Virginia Uranium tried to argue that it nevertheless displaces any state law motivated by safety concerns, even if the state law regulates an area not regulated by the federal government. The court rejected the company’s tortured interpretation of federal law, with Justice Neil Gorsuch pointing out in his lead opinion that “to accomplish all it  wants, Virginia Uranium would have to persuade us to read 13 words out of the statute and add 2 more . . . That may be a statute some would prefer, but it is not the statute we have.”

“The court wisely rejected the plaintiffs’ attempts to rewrite federal law,” Attorney General Hill said.

The ramifications of the court’s decision reach far beyond the arena of nuclear energy, he added.

“States have the authority to regulate any activity they choose unless Congress or the Constitution have specifically stated otherwise,” Attorney General Hill said. “If the court had accepted the plaintiffs’ arguments, then every state law — no matter its age or subject matter — could have been subjected to an intrusive inquiry into lawmakers’ motivations. Fortunately, the court took a stand for state sovereignty in this case.”

Last year, Attorney General Hill led a 10-state coalition in filing an amicus brief supporting the Commonwealth of Virginia in this case.