The Campaign Spot

Does McAuliffe Even Understand the EPA’s New Rules for Coal Plants?

Hmm.

Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday that he supports new Environmental Protection Agency rules on carbon emissions, taking a clear stance for the first time on an issue that has become a key flashpoint in the Virginia governor’s race.

The EPA unveiled guidelines two weeks ago that would limit the amount of carbon that future coal- and gas-fired plants can emit into the atmosphere, likely making it difficult for any new coal-powered plants to be built. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for governor, has said the rules would be devastating to Virginia’s coal industry, and has accused McAuliffe (D) of being an accomplice to the Obama administration’s alleged “war on coal.”

Lachlan Markay put together this map of where the country’s major coal mines are, and where the EPA’s “listening sessions” about the rules new were held:

As you’ll notice, the sites of the mines and the “listening sessions” weren’t near each other. If you wanted to ensure that no one who actually works in mining weighed in at these “listening sessions,” this is pretty much how you would do it.

The only listening session near Virginia occurred in Washington, D.C.; the Buchanan Number One mine, in Buchanan County, Virginia, is a 400-mile drive away from the nation’s capital. That mine has been in operation for 30 years, employs 627 people, and produces 4.5 million tons of coal per year.

In McAuliffe’s defense, there’s always the possibility that he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about, and is just winging it again:

Asked about the issue again Tuesday during a tour of the Tyson’s Corner technology firm MicroTech, McAuliffe initially avoided a clear position again, saying: “I think we have to look at when the permits [for new coal plants] come in and look at how it applies and what the regulations are.”

When a reporter pressed McAuliffe on whether he supports the guidelines “as they are written right now,” McAuliffe responded: “I do, you bet. What I’ve looked at, I support what we need to do to obviously protect our air and our water.”

“I think we have to look at it” isn’t, technically, a position.

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