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Poll: Voters split on uranium
Friday, December 23, 2011
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS -
RICHMOND - A poll of more than 1,000 registered voters found Virginians divided on whether uranium mining should be allowed in the state, while an overwhelming majority supports a ban of guns on college campuses.
The poll released Thursday was conducted by Quinnipiac University from Dec. 13-19 among 1,135 registered voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percent.
On the issue of uranium mining, 43 percent said mining should be allowed because of the economic benefits, while 41 percent oppose it based on environmental concerns. The divide is virtually unchanged from a June poll.
Virginia has had a 30-year ban on uranium mining, but a company wants the state to lift the ban so it can mine a 119-million-pound deposit in Pittsylvania County.
The polling was conducted on the heels of a socio-economic study that emphasized the jobs and revenues mining would create in the region and before a more critical analysis by a National Academy of Sciences panel. It stated Virginia would have to address a number of health and environmental risks before ending the ban.
The poll found Republican and Democratic voters were far apart on the issue, Republicans supporting mining 62-24 percent and Democrats opposing it 54-29 percent.
Uranium mining also created a gender gap, with men favoring an end to the ban 53-33 percent and women wanting to keep it in place, 47-34 percent. College graduates also oppose it by a small percentage, while those without a degree support mining 45-37.
The General Assembly is expected to take up some aspect of uranium mining in the 2012. Virginia Uranium Inc., which wants to mine the deposit near the North Carolina border, has flown legislators on its tab to uranium mining or processing facilities in France and Canada and lined up a large number of lobbyists. Opponents are girding for one of the most pitched environmental battles in years.
On the issue of gun rights, a small majority - 50-45 percent - said protecting gun rights is more important than controlling gun ownership, but they opposed by a nearly 2-1 ratio ending the state's limit of one handgun purchase per month.
On the issue of guns on college campuses, 75-20 percent said they should not be allowed.
The issue is particularly relevant because of the mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007, in which 32 people were killed by a lone gunman who then killed himself. The polling was also conducted in the aftermath of a Dec. 8 incident on the Blacksburg campus in which a Virginia Tech police officer was killed before the gunman turned the weapon on himself.
The Virginia Tech campus has become a battleground for gun-rights and gun-control advocates. They disagree whether a student or professor who was armed during the 2007 killings could have reduced the number of deaths.
In a recent opinion, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has said that to ban legal concealed carry weapons on a campus, a university's board must pass a regulation specifically stating that. A policy is not sufficient, he said.
The Quinnipiac poll found that 49 percent of Virginians polled say someone in their household owns a gun. The view on banning guns on campus, however, is shared across party lines, education levels and other demographics.
Even those with carry permits should not be allowed to bring their weapon on campus, voters said 65-32 percent.