It’s difficult day for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe. That’s because the Obama administration on Friday announced its landmark power-plant regulations, setting strict limits on how much greenhouse-gas pollution can be generated by any future plant and instantly sparking backlash from the coal industry.
The state’s southwest is coal-mining country, and many Virginians rely on coal plants to keep the lights on. While Democrats in other coal states have distanced themselves from the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement, so far McAuliffe has been mostly keeping quiet. Don’t be fooled though. As National Journal‘s Coral Davenport reported, this is an extremely important if uncomfortable time for the Old Dominion Democrat.
Virginia has a complicated relationship with climate politics, and those priorities are apparent in McAuliffe’s own conflictions. While he’s walked a careful line on coal, voicing his support for a “clean coal” solution, McAuliffe has been outspoken in his broader climate politics, criticizing opponent Ken Cuccinelli for his climate denial and noting in particular Cuccinelli’s attack on the climate scientist Michael Mann.
That’s a brave move in Virginia, given its identity as a coal state, and environmental groups like the League of Conservation Voters have been campaigning aggressively on his behalf.
Cuccinelli has been quick to pounce on the tension in McAuliffe’s position. “The needs of our job creators and families are much more important than special-interest groups and radical environmentalists,” Cuccinelli wrote in a statement moments after Obama’s new regulations were announced. “It’s disappointing that the president and Terry McAuliffe either don’t understand that or don’t seem to care.”
But Cuccinelli may be vulnerable on climate issues, too. Obama’s proposed regulations have strong public backing, particularly from young people around the country. And climate change could have a tremendous impact on Virginia’s coastal areas. Norfolk, in particular, is listed as one of the U.S. cities most threatened by sea-level rise according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Cuccinelli has actively ducked questions about whether he accepts the science behind human-caused global warming, effectively stonewalling reporters who pressed the question a few weeks ago.
McAuliffe’s campaign broke its radio silence Friday, releasing a cautious statement saying, “He looks forward to further reviewing the president’s proposed rules.” Even that’s impressive for a Democrat from Appalachia. Three years ago, such politicians were all running away from Obama’s record on coal as if their political lives depend on it.
In some cases, they did. Former Democratic Rep. Rick Boucher was booted from office in 2010 simply for backing the 2009 climate-change bill and even though he successfully negotiated significant carve-outs for the coal industry.
If McAuliffe can walk the line as an environmentalist candidate for governor, we may be seeing a big shift in Virginia and beyond.
What We're Following See More »
"President Trump is expected to announce that Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci will be White House communications director, according to two sources familiar with the planning. Trump has left the role open since Mike Dubke resigned in May, and the President has vented frequently to his friends about the performance of his press operation." According to NBC News, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus are resisting the move.
"President Donald Trump's second-quarter job approval rating has fallen below what any other past president has gotten during the same time frame. A new Gallup poll found that Trump averaged a 38.8% rating between April 20 and July 19. The average approval rating for that time is 62%. President Obama was at the average during this time period, as was President Nixon. President Clinton is the only president who was below 50% by the second quarter, coming in with a 44% approval rating." There is also a large partisan gap. "Just 8% of Democrats approved of Trump's job performance during the second quarter, but 85% of Republicans did. Approval ratings have become increasingly polarized in recent administrations, but the 77-point gap for Trump is a new record."
"The US government will soon prohibit American citizens from traveling to North Korea, according to two tour groups that cater to Western tourists who want to visit the secretive country. The US will announce the ban within a couple of days, said Simon Cockerell, general manager of Beijing-based Koryo Tours. The agency was informed of the development by officials of the Swedish government, which represents America's interests in North Korea, he told CNN."
"Federal arts and humanities programs targeted for elimination by the Trump administration would get a lifeline from House appropriators willing to ignore the president’s proposal and keep them running. The $31.5 billion fiscal 2018 Interior-Environment spending bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday includes $145 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. While that’s still a 3.2 percent cut from the fiscal year 2017 enacted level, it is more than $116 million above Trump’s budget request. The National Endowment for the Humanities would receive $145 million in fiscal 2018, which is $103.7 million above the White House budget request."
"The White House’s Office of Management and Budget detailed Thursday how it would jettison hundreds of existing or planned regulations as part of its larger push to ease federal restrictions on the private sector, upending federal policies on labor, the environment and public health. ... The Trump administration said it was pulling or suspending 860 pending regulations."