augusta free press news

Can pushing green change blue back to red?

“I think, and some of you all might disagree with me, I think nuclear power has to be one of the options. I don’t think we can take coal off the table. In fact, we’re building a new coal plant down in Southwest Virginia, but we ought to make that the place that gets carbon-capture and sequestration so we can use coal more efficiently. I’d love to have that here in Virginia.”
Uh, oh. Sounds like somebody is pandering to the right here.
He’d better watch out. The thought police on the green left is going to skewer this fascist.
Really. Nuclear, coal. What’s next – he’s going to tell us he’s for offshore drilling?

“I think it’s part of the mix, but I don’t think it is the long-term solution. We at this point total have 2 percent of the world’s oil. All of our reserves, 2 to 3 percent. We use 23 percent of the world’s oil. If we drill today off the coast of Virginia, which I have said I would be willing to take a look at, as long as we’re 50 miles off, and we took care of the environmental concerns, we do all that, it will help us a little bit in the interim. I’d rather us use Virginia oil than Saudi Arabian oil. But it isn’t the whole answer. The whole answer is going to be around some of these other solutions.”

“I think our approach ought to be, We’ve got to put all the options on the table.”

Hmmm. Some pandering to the right on offshore, and then some concessions to the left, though not nearly enough.

That’s gotta be …

Mark Warner.

Ding ding ding ding ding!

This, incidentally, isn’t a position on the part of our fair junior senator that endears him to too many Green Democrats. I had a conversation with a good friend who is a Green Dem after Warner’s town hall in Staunton last week where this came up as a prominent discussion piece and got a friendly earful on Warner’s coal, nuclear and oil sins.

This is also becoming something of an issue in the gubernatorial primary between Terry McAuliffe, who like Warner supports the exploration of offshore drilling as being part of an energy solution for Virginia, and Brian Moran, who is taking a hardcore Green Dem stand against offshore drilling and has also been critical of the proposed coal power plant that Warner thinks is a good idea.

The Moran campaign used both issues last week to highlight its candidate’s stance on the environment and energy issues, praising a local board of supervisors for a resolution it had passed opposing offshore drilling in one press release. “I’m proud of the Accomack leaders for standing up in opposition to offshore drilling,” Moran said in a statement. “We have to make energy efficiency a top priority and reduce our growing demand, rather than risk naval operations, tourism and other facilities off our coast. They’ve taken a bold stand and joined a growing group of us across Virginia. We don’t believe that the solution to 21st century energy challenges comes from 19th century fossil fuels.”

In a second presser, Moran campaign spokesman Jesse Ferguson took McAuliffe to task for a campaign TV ad that Ferguson said was “conspicuously missing” any reference to his support for offshore drilling. “It’s incredibly hypocritical to continue spending unbelievable money on high-cost ads that distorts your plans and pretend that you’re a real champion of protecting our environment,” Ferguson said. “Virginians want leaders who tell the truth. Brian Moran is the only candidate for governor standing firm against offshore drilling and the new coal plant in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. He believes we can create thousands of green jobs and preserve our environment. Going forward, we hope all Terry’s money can be put to use telling the truth,” Ferguson said.

But what if the truth is that Virginians don’t want one or the other – drilling and a coal plant or alternative energy – but both? This issue seems to have been vetted rather thoroughly from last fall’s Senate campaign when Jim Gilmore ran on the drill now, drill tomorrow, drill forever platform that worked so well for Republicans in the ’08 cycle and Warner offered the comprehensive green-plus-traditional sources as his alternative. Remember that Gilmore tried to tar Warner as a green freak for throwing out even the basic idea that alternative energy sources were worth the time and effort to develop.

Is moderate-conservative Democratic Virginia ready to put oil and coal in the rearview mirror to rely entirely on solar and wind and biofuels and whatever other new technology might present itself in the near term?

That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.


– Story by Chris Graham