Tim Kaine is scared of his record on coal, and for good reason. As governor, he appointed an official Climate Change Commission and endorsed its recommendations, including draconian state-level restrictions on fossil fuel use. He testified on Capitol Hill in support of cap-and-trade energy taxes, which he continued to push enthusiastically when he became chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Now, with President Obama’s war on coal in full swing, Mr. Kaine is styling himself pro-coal. Virginia voters shouldn’t be fooled.
Mr. Kaine recently took to the air — literally — with a TV ad of himself in a helicopter, talking about how he brought a new coal plant to St. Paul, Va. Yet the New York Times reported in “more than a dozen interviews in St. Paul, no one was familiar with any role that Mr. Kaine had in getting the plant going.” Environmental engineer Jeff Kite said, “I did the permitting, and I don’t remember that.”
Local delegate Terry Kilgore was outraged. “I have been involved in the Dominion Clean Coal plant in Wise [County] since its inception, and it’s news to me that Tim Kaine or his administration were strong advocates in making this a reality,” Mr. Kilgore said. “In fact, we had to fight his boards to get it permitted. As President Obama’s ‘unabashed’ supporter, he will be fighting for the [Environmental Protection Agency] as they try to carry out cap-and-trade through new regulations.”
That’s the key issue for the coal industry and the future of affordable electricity in Virginia. Under Mr. Obama and Mr. Kaine, there would be no new coal plants. Most likely existing coal plants would be shut down — sending electricity prices through the roof. That’s why this is a major statewide issue, not just an issue for the coal fields.
Back in 2008, Mr. Obama infamously said: “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity prices would necessarily skyrocket. if somebody wants to build a coal power plant, they can — it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum.”
Mr. Kaine was on board from the start, testifying in support of cap-and-trade before a Senate committee in 2007. In June 2009, at the height of Mr. Obama’s push for the legislation, Mr. Kaine said, “We’ve got to have a cap-and-trade or equivalent system.”
The American people rejected cap-and-trade, but Mr. Obama turned to bureaucrats and regulators to do it anyway. The day after the 2010 landslide that swept pro-cap-and-trade Democrats such as Rep. Rick Boucher of Southwest Virginia out of office, Mr. Obama said: “Cap and trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way. It was a means, not an end.”
Mr. Obama proceeded to instruct his EPA to pursue the same goal of skyrocketing energy prices and bankrupting coal, with the support of Mr. Kaine, who was chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Mines are being closed. The latest announcement came from Alpha Natural Resources, which is laying off 1,200 coal miners, citing “a regulatory environment that’s aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal.”
The strongest words of anger against this regulatory destruction of the coal industry came from Cecil E. Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers: “The Navy SEALs shot Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and [Obama EPA Administrator] Lisa Jackson shot us in Washington. This rule is an all-out, in my opinion, decision by the EPA that we’re never going to have another coal-fired facility in the United States that’s constructed.”
That puts Mr. Kaine way to the left of Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb, both Virginia Democrats who voted to overturn the most costly of Mr. Obama’s anti-coal regulations to date, the so-called Utility MACT rule that purports to regulate mercury but really is all about forcing coal plants into retirement.
Mr. Webb and Mr. Warner put politics aside and stood up to the president of their own party and power environmental lobbies to do the right thing. Nothing in Mr. Kaine’s record suggests he would do the same. That doesn’t just matter to coal miners — it means skyrocketing electricity prices for everyone.
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment and author of “Democracy Denied” (BenBella Books, 2011).