The Washington Times - September 13, 2012, 03:42PM

U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine took to the skies of southwest Virginia in his latest ad touting his energy policy vision with a coal-fired power plant as the backdrop — but the campaign of his opponent, Republican George Allen, immediately tried to bring him back down to earth.

Mr. Kaine mentions the new Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in Wise County as evidence of his support for the state’s coal industry and has touted an “all-of-the-above” energy policy that supports clean coal, offshore energy, natural gas, and emerging clean energy technologies.

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“As governor, I supported its construction,” the Democrat says of the plant. “I also support offshore energy, conservation, and innovative investments in wind and solar which together employ more than 66,000 Virginians. That’s what I call unleashing our energy potential.”

The last comment is an apparent tweak at Mr. Allen, who speaks frequently on the stump about the need to “unleash” the United States’ energy resources.

Mr. Allen frequently chides the Obama administration for its regulations on coal-fired power plants and its refusal to open up the area off Virginia’s shores for offshore oil and natural gas exploration. Mr. Allen also says consistently that on his first day in office, he would introduce a bill to allow Virginia to explore for oil and natural gas off its coast, with the state’s share of royalties going toward roads and transportation.

In fact, Mr. Allen’s campaign argued that the Wise County plant could not even be opened under current regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Tim Kaine’s new television ad says he’s proud of the Virginia Hybrid Energy Center coal-fired power plant,” Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith said. “It’s too bad that President Obama’s new regulations won’t allow anyone else to build one.”

Earlier this year, Mr. Kaine, Mr. Allen, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, and Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb all spoke out against the Obama administration’s decision to leave Virginia’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) region out of its most recent five-year oil and gas leasing plan. Mr. Kaine also supports Mr. Warner and Mr. Webb’s Virginia Outer Continental Sherlf Energy Production Act, which would open up Virginia’s shores for drilling off the coast and direct half the revenues toward conservation efforts, clean energy technology, and infrastructure projects to develop energy resources.

As governor, he signed a bill supporting federal efforts to see how much natural gas existed 50 miles or more off of Virginia’s coast. He bristled, however, when President George W. Bush lifted an executive ban on offshore drilling and moved to explore for potential oil and natural gas, asking the government to delay the process until Mr. Obama took office to allow the new administration to consider its options.

And in 2009, he urged Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to postpone the lease sale that would have allowed for oil and natural gas exploration off of Virginia’s southeastern coast, citing the conflict with the state’s aforementioned energy policies.

Mr. Kaine’s successor, Mr. McDonnell, welcomed the prospects of Virginia becoming the first state on the Atlantic coast to allow for offshore drilling, but the planned lease sale was cancelled after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.