Virginia may be the cradle of American democracy, but it’s also the stingiest state in the union when it comes to the environment. According to a fiscal analysis released yesterday, the state spends less on environmental protections than any other; moreover, current environmental spending rates are lower than they have been since 1984, as calculated as a percentage of the overall state budget. Virginia environmentalists fear the trend will only worsen as budget cuts are announced later this week; they are calling on state lawmakers to increase funds for conservation via such tactics as raising permitting fees for polluting businesses, instituting a state garbage fee, and increasing the state tax on tobacco products to fund air pollution initiatives. But greenies face a stiff uphill battle given the state’s ongoing budget crisis and a laundry list of other interest groups lobbying to keep funding cuts at bay.