Part 5 of 5
10:02 am
Tue July 1, 2014

Rail Safety: Emergency Workers Still in the Dark

Credit Natural Resources Defense Council

In just over a year, North America has seen a dozen serious accidents involving trains that derailed while carrying flammable crude oil.  One of those accidents, in Lynchburg, caused a massive fire and oil spill.  In most cases, fire departments didn’t know what they were dealing with, since railroads have kept that information secret, but the federal government is now requiring them to inform states when trains of 35 cars or more, carrying  oil from North Dakota or Montana, are coming through. 

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Beginning July 1st
3:20 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

New Laws On the Books

A broad bipartisan and bicameral consensus at the General Assembly may not create sensational headlines—but such agreements do occur.  In Part One of our series on new state laws that take effect this week.

Lawmakers in both parties and Governor McAuliffe made it a priority to cut the number of SOL tests and revise their focus. Early grades will now focus more on reading and math tests. Delegate Tag Greason sponsored a law to limit assessments in third through eighth grades.

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Part 4 of 5
12:41 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Rail Safety: Tracks & Inspections

Credit City of Lynchburg

Within hours of a rail crash in Lynchburg on April 30, inspectors for the state and federal governments and CSX were on the scene – trying to figure out why 17 cars derailed and one ruptured – producing flames, smoke and a significant oil spill. 

Getting official answers could take 18 months, but there are clues that suggest a cause for the accident and a future course of action to improve rail safety. 

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Humane Society Complaints
12:00 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Natural Bridge Zoo Protest

Animal rights activists rallied Sunday at the Natural Bridge Zoo-- an attraction that boasts the most complete collection of animals in Virginia.  The Humane Society of the United States has a different description of the zoo, and federal officials say it's now under investigation.

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Environment Virginia Report
7:27 am
Mon June 30, 2014

VA Waterways Still Not So Clean Despite Many Efforts

Credit http://www.environmentvirginia.org/

While some groups and businesses have touted their environmental accomplishments and criticized new EPA regulations, one watchdog organization says "not so fast."

The group Environment Virginia says although significant strides have been made in watershed cleanup, the state's waterways are still endangered and lots more work needs to be done.

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Government & Politics
7:19 am
Mon June 30, 2014

VaNews for 6.30.14

A Virginia legislator is trying to help a long­banned crop make a comeback in the Commonwealth...and Portsmouth City Council has learned that owning goats is not so simple as it might appear to be. 

Those stories have been among the most read over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project's VaNews link on vpap.org.

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Discussing Solutions, Not Causes
4:00 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Hearing on Sea Level Rise

Norfolk, VA
Credit Wetlands Watch

Two Virginia Democrats are teaming up with two Virginia Republicans in a rare bipartisan hearing into how to combat sea level rise along the eastern shore.

Most Republicans in Congress are dubious of climate scientists who claim humans are heating the planet. Take Virginia Congressman Scott Rigell. He represents a purple district encompassing all of Virginia Beach. He’s won twice running as an open-minded pragmatist. Unlike moderates elsewhere, Rigell remains dubious of human’s impact on the climate.

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Environmental Impact Study
3:30 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Coalfields Expressway Plan Under Scrutiny

A plan for a controversial highway, known as the Coalfields Expressway, will undergo a full environmental impact study by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

V-DOT has described the plan the road as an economic lifeline for a region with a depressed economy. But citizen groups see it as benefiting only coal mining companies and not local communities.

 

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New Law July 1st
4:28 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Cycling Safety Legislation

As more commuters turn to bicycles as an alternative method of transportation, lawmakers say everyone must rethink how we take to the roads.

That approach is now reflected in a new law that takes effect on July 1st.  The law will require motorists to allow three feet of clearance when passing bicyclists.

 

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Part 3 of 5
3:09 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Rail Safety: Slower Trains & Stonger Cars

For decades Americans have worried about our dependence on foreign oil and gas.  By 2005 we were importing 60% of our energy, but in 2008 a new technology called horizontal hydrologic fracturing or “fracking” raised the promise of energy independence. 

U.S. crude production is up 50% and  imports have fallen 35%.  But getting oil from a massive shale deposit in North Dakota to refineries is raising serious concerns about public safety.

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