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Energy wars in the Virginia Governor's race

5:49 PM, Sep 20, 2013   |    comments
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FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA9) -- The Environmental Protection Agency proposed new rules today to reduce future carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants. 

It's the most significant step yet by the Obama administration to address climate change. But in Virginia, a coal producing state, the new proposals are drawing differing reactions from the two major party candidates for governor.  

Republican Candidate Ken Cuccinelli says EPA's proposed emissions regulations would be a huge economic blow to southwest Virginia's coal industry, by preventing new coal fired plants from being built. 

"If you take the one industry out of one of the poorest parts of Virginia, they don't have anything left.  And that's what our federal government is doing to them," said Cucinelli. 

He and his democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe spoke separately at the 2013 Virginia small business summit that was held at George mason University in Fairfax.  McAuliffe said he hasn't decided whether to support the new EPA regulations or not. 

"Everybody is for clean water and clean air.  I haven't seen the specific proposals yet. We'll look through them to see how they affect Virginia and and Virginia jobs.  I'm going to fight to protect all the jobs that we have in Virginia," said McAuliffe.

McAuliffe believes the new regulations could be a huge opportunity for new industry in Virginia.

"Virginia Tech is one of the world's leaders in carbon capture, sequestration. This might prove a tremendous opportunity for Virginia Tech to commercialize what they have," said McAuliffe. 

Unlike McAuliffe, Cuccinelli did not stick around to answer reporters' questions.  We wanted to know if attorney in his office gave improper legal advice to gas companies in a legal dispute with landowners. 

Newly released emails from a freedom of information act request and reported by the Bristol Herald Courier show that an Attorney General  staff member gave legal advice to attorneys from two gas companies being sued by landowners in a Royalties case. One of them is CNX, whose parent company Consol Energy has given the Cuccinelli campaign more than $100,000 in campaign contributions. 

A spokesman in the Attorney General's office says the emails were related to the attorney's additional duties as legal counsel to the Virginia Gas and Oil Board, which distribute gas royalties and she was only trying to help the board resolve the dispute as quickly as possible.

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