A 200-acre plot of earth in Virginia is not the unassuming farmland it appears. It harbors what is thought to be the largest deposit of uranium in the U.S. — 110 million pounds of the stuff, worth almost $10 billion and able to supply every U.S. nuclear power plant for two years. Unfortunately for drooling nuclear boosters, Virginia banned uranium mining in 1982. Nonetheless, landowner Walter Coles recently got a state permit to drill 40 holes to examine the material, and is attempting to persuade the General Assembly to approve a $1 million independent study of whether the uranium can be safely mined. If that goes well, Coles will ask the legislature to lift the mining ban. Uranium has never been mined in relatively populous Virginia, and greens and residents are concerned about the effects of unearthed radioactive material on the area’s land, air, and water. But with nuclear power being widely touted as a domestic alternative energy source, the project has many backers as well.