Energy Issues at Play in Virginia Race

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Energy Issues at Play in Virginia Race


Republican Ed Gillespie thinks that the way to the Virginia governor’s mansion lies through coal country. His opponent, Democratic Lt. Governor Ralph Northam, embraces renewable energy sources as the way to advance Virginia. Their divergent views on energy issues present a stark choice for voters as they choose the commonwealth’s next governor in November.


Coal played a big role in the final gubernatorial debate held this week. The two candidates squared off at the University of Virginia’s campus in Wise, located in the southwest corner of the state. This is the middle of coal country, and Gillespie played up this fact repeatedly. He stressed his support for coal jobs, his backing of a coal tax credit, and his happiness that President Trump is reversing the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan.


Lt. Governor Northam also declared his support for coal jobs, but then went on to discuss his view on renewable energy sources. He said that wind and solar “would move us to cleaner energy and a cleaner environment.”


Southwest Virginia has been hit hard due to the declining use of coal. While Hillary Clinton won the state in 2016, this region strongly supported Donald Trump. Many residents there blame environmental policies supported by Democrats for contributing to the problems in the coal industry. That view is shared by Gillespie.


Citing concerns about climate change, Lt. Governor Northam would like Virginia to focus on developing energy sources like wind and solar. Even with his opponent’s stronger embrace of coal, the lieutenant governor garnered the endorsement of the United Mine Workers of America Virginia State Council of the Coal Miners.


On other energy issues, Gillespie and Northam have stark differences. Gillespie supports hydraulic fracturing to develop shale gas and offshore drilling, while Northam opposes them. Northam backs Governor Terry McAuliffe’s initiative to limit carbon emissions, while Gillespie does not. Gillespie also supports two controversial natural gas pipelines, while Northam has not taken a stand on that issue.


Do you think that Lt. Governor Ralph Northam is right that Virginia should support renewable energy sources? Or do you prefer Ed Gillespie’s approach of making it easier to develop coal, natural gas, and oil in Virginia?


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