In the face of rising sea levels and increasingly frequent major storms, Virginia's coastal communities must plan for the future to protect people, property, and infrastructure.

The winter 2012-13 issue of Virginia Issues & Answers, a public policy forum published by Virginia Tech's Office of University Relations, explores the implications of sea level rise for the commonwealth and examines the costs, risks, and rewards of the most current options for addressing the rising seas. In this issue's cover story, "Rising Tides, Sinking Coast," analysis is provided by Carlton Hershner and Molly Mitchell of the Center for Coastal Resources Management at the College of William & Mary.

In "Spiraling Debt," Larkin Dudley, associate professor emerita in Virginia Tech's Center for Public Administration and Policy and a Kettering Foundation associate, considers a central question often ignored in the public debate: How do citizens perceive debt? Drawing from forums on debt and economic security in Virginia, Dudley analyzes how residents view the issues of debt, spending, and taxation — and argues that such knowledge should empower policymakers to openly address the critical issue of spiraling debt.

In "Smarter Grids," Robert Broadwater, a Virginia Tech professor of electrical and computer engineering, explains how policymakers and utility providers can improve Virginia's power grid. Using the Integrated System Model — an exact replica of an entire power grid that allows for simulation — a utility in New York has created a more robust energy system with less downtime and faster recovery from major outages.

Ward Stevens, an Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine instructor and former hospital CEO, outlines in "The Medicaid Expansion in Virginia" the changes and choices Virginia policymakers will face as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act goes into effect. Stevens breaks down the costs and implications of the decisions the commonwealth will have to make with regard to Medicaid expansion and insurance exchanges.

Lastly, in "Uranium Mining in Virginia," four experts and advocates weigh in on the pros and cons of lifting the long-standing moratorium on uranium mining and milling in Virginia. Examining the economic, environmental, and public safety issues surrounding the topic, the panel provides policymakers with a comprehensive analysis of what uranium mining and milling would look like in the commonwealth.

Available online, Virginia Issues & Answers is published by the Office of University Relations as an outreach service of the university. Request hard copies by emailing Ann Carlisle Strole.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.


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