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Parts Of Virginia Makes List Of Endangered Regions

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The Southern Environmental Law Center says three activities put wildlife, scenery and public health at risk — mountaintop removal in Virginia and Tennessee, the Route 29 Bypass around Charlottesville and uranium mining in Southside Virginia.

Marie Hawthorne, the center's development director, knows that state lawmakers took uranium off their schedule for this session, but observers say it could come back.

"Uranium still remains on our list this year, because there is a threat that uranium proponents could put a last-minute rider in, or that they could convince the governor to take independent action," says Hawthorne.

Likewise, demand for coal may be down, but that doesn't mean mining companies won't be blasting off mountaintops, and Virginia's Department of Transportation is moving forward with plans to build the 29 Bypass.

"We are still waiting for the Federal Highway Administration to say whether or not they're going to require further study, further data, and we believe they need to, and so we are waiting for that," she says.

Hawthorne says Virginia is not alone; other southeastern states are also facing environmental damage.

"Fracking is cropping up in multiple places throughout the region," she says. "We are right now addressing coal ash pollution in four of our states."

The Southern Environmental Law Center is also concerned anti-environmentalists in Congress will weaken environmental laws and enforcement. The group says citizens should not have to choose between a healthy environment and a healthy economy.

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