Green Virginia? McAuliffe, Cuccinelli square off on energy

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli are offering very different pictures of the state’s energy future.

McAuliffe has argued for more subsidies to green energy sources, while Cuccinelli preferred an “all of the above” energy plan that rejects government mandates.

McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate, has said he would work to create green energy jobs in Virginia and fund research at universities into greening fossil fuels, though the former Democratic National Committee chairman did not specifically mention oil and gas in recent remarks.

“There’s so much work we can do on energy efficiency,” McAuliffe said at an energy debate on Thursday hosted by the Consumer Energy Alliance. “We need to provide incentives for homeowners, and move ahead on offshore wind energy development. We could light up 10,000 homes, but we also could create thousands of jobs.”

In contrast, Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee, championed an “all of the above” energy plan and promised to fight back against the Obama administration’s attempts to dismantle the coal industry and halt natural gas and oil drilling.

“I will fight burdensome federal regulations that seek to put coal, oil and natural gas out of business,” Cuccinelli said. He said tougher environmental regulations under President Barack Obama threaten the state’s coal industry.

“In Virginia, the war on coal is a war on our poor,” he added. “That’s who suffers in Virginia.”

Cuccinelli also took aim at the state’s mandate to generate 25 percent of its power from renewable energy sources, though he said he was in favor of renewable energy.

“We can’t abandon coal, oil, nuclear and natural gas,” Cuccinelli said.

Environmentalists slammed Cuccinelli for not stating his position on global warming.

“The truth is evident, and it’s not hard to find. It’s in the headlines that embarrassed our Commonwealth because of Cuccinelli’s endless extreme statements —  and it’s in Cuccinelli’s record of wasting our time and money on reckless ideological crusades against climate science. Virginians won’t be fooled by Cuccinelli’s climate denial denial,” Virginia Sierra Club Director Glen Besa said.

The Virginia race has been a nail-biter, though new polling shows that McAuliffe pulling ahead of Cuccinelli.

The race is expected to tighten as November approaches.

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