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5 Ways Virginia May Be the Worst State in the Nation

It isn't known for being a bastion of liberalism, but even for a 'purplish' state, Virginia has taken extraordinarily conservative actions recently.

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But in March, Cuccinelli's attack was legally upended (and it wasn't the first time). On March 2, Virginia's Supreme Court, upholding lower courts, ruled that the attorney general did not have the authority to demand the release of Mann's emails and other documents.

"Certainly, I do think that it's important for the university to be able to protect the privacy of its researchers and the ability of scientists to ask tough questions," Michael Halpern of the Union of Concerned Scientists told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "This is a victory for science in Virginia." 

Ironically, Cuccinelli based his attack on alleged violations of the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, and ended up spending many thousands of Virginia taxpayers dollars on his anti-science crusade.

4. Fossil Future

There is nothing that screams "let's go back in time!" more than embracing 19th-century energy. Despite massive public outcry, Old Dominion Electric Cooperative's plans to build the state's biggest coal-burning power plant in Surry County near Williamsburg are moving forward. The environmental and human health costs of the plant are estimated to be quite high. An editorial in the local Virginian-Pilot says:

The Cypress Creek Power Station would also emit -- each year -- more than 2,000 pounds of arsenic (a poison and carcinogen); almost 7,000 pounds of benzene (carcinogen); 3,700 pounds of benzyl chloride (once used in chemical warfare); 113 pounds of beryllium (heavy metal and carcinogen); 274 pounds of cadmium (heavy metal, carcinogen); 1,390 pounds of chromium (metal, carcinogen); more than 13,000 pounds of cyanide (poison); 356,000 pounds of hydrochloric acid gas; 924 pounds of lead, 2,600 pounds of manganese and 118 pounds of mercury (toxic metals and powerful neurotoxins, especially in children).

And this doesn't take into account the ill effects of pollution from the sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, as well as the global warming pollution, coal ash waste, and mountaintop removal mining that would help feed it.

Appalachian Voices reports, "It has been predicted (using EPA-approved methodologies) that this coal plant would cause serious health problems for those downwind over the course of its 60-year lifespan. Among other problems, analysts estimate that pollution from the plant would cause over 1,300 asthma ER visits and contribute to over 2,400 heart attacks and 200,000 lost workdays."

Despite all this, local officials in the town of Dendron where the plant would be built are moving ahead with the project. However, the EPA's newly announced regulations on coal-plant construction could rain on their parade. 

5. Attack on Women

In the beginning of March, Virginia joined a national trend in the "war on women." Governor McDonald signed a law requiring women to have an ultrasound prior to having an abortion. The final bill that was signed into law removed language from an earlier version that would have required many women to have transvaginal ultrasounds -- which, in the uproar over the provision, sparked cries of "state-sanctioned rape."

Even though the law now does not require transvaginal ultrasounds it is still a bad deal for women. As Maya Dusenbery explained for Mother Jones -- it's medically unnecessary; it costs anywhere from $200 and $1,200 and may not be covered by insurance (because of that whole medically unnecessary part); it requires a 24-hour waiting period between the ultrasound and the abortion, which can be difficult for many women who have to travel for the procedure or have to take time away from work or school; studies show that ultrasounds don't help "inform" women about their decisions (they already know they're pregnant!); and most of all -- it's politically motivated.

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