By Pat Mullins
Sometimes the differences between candidates are a matter of nuance.
That is certainly not the case with Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe on issues of energy.
Let’s start with the biggest and starkest difference between these two candidates: Ken Cuccinelli supports coal, and Terry McAuliffe does not. One need look no further than the candidates’ reaction to the recent EPA announcement of new rules on carbon dioxide.
These rules, if they’re implemented, are the death knell of Southwest Virginia’s economy. Well-paying private-sector jobs are hard to come by in Southwest Virginia, and the coal industry is the economic backbone of Southwest Virginia’s economy. Coal jobs pay the mortgages, keep the local grocery store open and sustain thousands of small businesses going.
The EPA admits that these new rules will effectively end the construction of new coal-fired power plants – even though there will be no “notable CO2 emission changes resulting from the rule.” That’s going to significantly reduce the aggregate demand for coal. And when the demand for coal goes down, mines close – for no purpose! For our friends and neighbors in Southwest Virginia, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
How did Ken Cuccinelli react? As always, he’s ready to fight for Virginians. He recognized the new rules for what they were — a massive federal overreach for no good purpose — and promised to fight them as Governor, just as he fought the EPA with Fairfax County when the agency decided to regulate rainwater as pollutant. (You can’t make this stuff up.)
How did Terry McAuliffe react? Well, I wish I could tell you. It’s been a week since the announcement, and Terry is still “carefully considering” the new rules. If it honestly takes Terry a week to figure out that these pointless mandates are nothing but bad for Virginia, he doesn’t even need to be driving a car, let alone be governor of a state.
Another key difference between these two candidates is their positions on offshore drilling. Or their long-term positions on offshore drilling, I should say. A little background is in order here.
Virginians have expressed overwhelming support for the idea of exploring for oil and natural gas off our coast, and the General Assembly and Congress heard them. We were actually in line to open our waters for exploration until President Obama intervened. Today, a Presidential signature is the only thing between Virginia and new jobs.
In 2009, Terry McAuliffe was foursquare against offshore drilling. But earlier this year, he changed his mind, citing “new technology.” Terry’s campaign has never quite gotten around to explaining what that “new technology” is, but I suspect is has to do with advances in public opinion polling.
Compare that to Ken Cuccinelli. Ken stands with the overwhelming majority of Virginians in favor of offshore energy exploration. It would create tens of thousands of well-paying, long-term jobs. And Ken didn’t need a public opinion poll to tell him that.
I could go on at length, but I think the best way to sum up the difference between these two candidates on energy policy is simply go look at their platforms.
One of Ken’s strengths is his depth of policy knowledge, and it shows on energy issues. Ken’s energy plan touches on electricity — transmission and generation — ethanol rules, environmental impact studies. It’s pithy. There’s substance.
Contrast that with Terry McAuliffe’s energy policy. Take a look at his website’s energy page. Go ahead, go check. I’ll wait.
You’re back. Great! See what I mean? Terry has windmills, conservation, nebulous “clean energy” jobs…and not much else. If the entire energy plank of your campaign is “windmills,” then, as the Richmond Times-Dispatch has said about Terry, you are a “deeply unserious candidate.”.
And that’s where we keep arriving at the end of each of the policy examinations. Ken Cuccinelli has depth on policy. You might not agree with him, but he isn’t just throwing buzzwords around for effect. They’re well reasoned and researched.
Substance versus flair. Depth versus bombast. Serious versus unserious. On issues of energy, just like everything else, it’s not a difficult choice to make.
Pat Mullins is chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia