On July 1 the Democratic Party’s candidate for governor in Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, attempted to rhetorically distance himself from President Obama’s war on coal last week. But McAuliffe is returning to his anti-coal industry themes. McAuliffe was joined on the campaign trail in Charlottesville and Blacksburg by former University of Virginia professor Michael Mann, the academic whose controversial global warming research is relied upon by liberals who want to kill coal and subsidize “clean energy.”
Skip Wood, a reporter at WJLA television station who covered McAuliffe’s Blacksburg event, noted that “Mann obviously was a strategic choice for McAuliffe, whose views on the coal industry and its potentially harmful effects on the environment aren’t quite as popular in coal-friendly southwestern Virginia.”
Virginia is the 12th largest coal producing state in the country. McAuliffe’s team, however, appears convinced that the majority of Virginia voters think as they do–that the coal industry should be highly regulated. Out of work coal miners in the western part of the state, as well as McAuliffe’s Republican opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, have different ideas about the role of coal in Virginia’s economy.
A spokesman for the Cuccinelli campaign said in a statement that “McAuliffe’s decision to invite Mann to campaign on his behalf is a clear indication that McAuliffe … will not protect Virginia’s coal industry and the tens of thousands of people who depend on it.”
When he ran for governor in 2009, McAuliffe stood shoulder-to-shoulder with President Obama and his war on coal. In April 2009 he declared that “[w]e have got to move past coal. As governor, I never want another coal plant built.” The Cuccinelli campaign has cleverly taken part of that 2009 declaration and featured it on lawn signs it has placed across Virginia, which not only feature McAuliffe’s name, but also use his campaign’s blue and green colors.
When President Obama doubled down on his regulatory attacks on the coal industry last week, calling for even more economically prohibitive regulations, Josh Schwerin, a spokesman for the McAuliffe campaign, tried to create some space between the President and Mr. McAuliffe. “While we’re waiting on actual regulations to be proposed, Terry believes any new regulations should balance the need to encourage clean energy with the fact that coal is, and will continue to be, a large portion of Virginia’s energy mix,” he said.
According to a study released by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity in May 2013, the Obama administration’s regulations have already shut down 16 coal fired power plants in Virginia since McAuliffe’s first run for governor in 2009. The study found that the Obama administration’s regulations will result in the shut down of an additional 21 coal fired power plants in Virginia by 2025.
When McAuliffe’s campaign said “[he] would be seriously concerned about regulations that would significantly increase utility costs for Virginians or result in the closure of existing Virginia power plants,” Cuccinelli responded with skepticism, calling Obama’s announcement last week on the coal industry a “job killer.”
“This is such a job killer, and there’s never been much distance between Terry McAuliffe and President Obama on these sorts of things,” Cuccinelli told the Washington Times. “So you add to that the offshore drilling, which he was against in ’09, he was against in 2010, he was against in 2011, he was against in 2012, and then, lo and behold, the field cleared and all of a sudden, well, maybe drilling for oil offshore isn’t such a bad idea.”
McAuliffe’s campaign website hangs his energy policy on wind power, and says nothing about coal or nuclear.