Coal Returns as a Campaign Issue; Cuccinelli Ad Attacks Rival McAuliffe's 'War' on Key State Industry

Article excerpt

Byline: David Sherfinski, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II tried to repackage a bread-and-butter issue for many Virginians - the state's coal industry - with a new tone Thursday and put the energy issue back at the forefront of the governor's race.

An ad attacking businessman Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate, for a purported war on coal briefly shows an image of President Obama, followed by flashes of workers and a clip of Mr. McAuliffe saying during his unsuccessful 2009 gubernatorial campaign that we have got to move past coal.

As governor, I never want another coal plant built, he says, with the ad repeating the line for effect. As governor, Ken Cuccinelli will fight to protect Virginia coal. And Virginia families.

The GOP is trying to seize on a report from Bloomberg News this week that a revised plan from the Environmental Protection Agency to limit carbon emissions would effectively outlaw the construction of new coal-fired power plants in the country, according to people who have been briefed on the plan.

Republicans understand that one of the keys to a growing economy and a stronger middle class is affordable energy, and Democrats across the country are on notice that they will be held to account for supporting job-killing policies like President Obama's war on coal, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Thursday.

Mr. McAuliffe has said this year that he wants to make sure the state has a healthy coal workforce and his campaign has said he would be concerned about plans from Mr. Obama that would increase utility costs in the state or force the shuttering of Virginia plants.

Still, Mr. Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate, is not without his own vulnerabilities on the issue.

The state inspector general is investigating the role of an attorney in Mr. Cuccinelli's office who provided advice to two out-of-state natural gas companies currently battling farmers in the southwestern part of the state over royalties.

One of them, Consol Energy Inc., has contributed more than $100,000 to Mr. Cuccinelli, who says none of his benefactors receive special treatment from his office.

If Ken Cuccinelli was serious about putting Virginians first, he would have fought for them in this case, the Democratic Party of Virginia said in a statement Thursday. …