Inauguration Day 2014

Congratulations to Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam, and Mark Herring, sworn in today as Virginia’s Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General!

Update: This story on the DPVA website – The inaugural speech and Video of the festivities are available through the link.

Democrats are right on coal

Democrats are right on coal, but here in the Ninth District Virginia, the GOP is more successful in pulling people’s strings. Many people are buying the story that the Democrats support the EPA, which is killing coal, and Republicans will preserve coal jobs. If the Ninth District goes for Republicans, coal will be a major reason for that choice. For Virginia and for coal, Republicans are the wrong choice.

Quite a few coal jobs in Virginia relate to research on clean coal. Finding a way to burn coal without carbon pollution is the best hope for sustainable jobs in coal, and Virginia Democrats support clean coal research. Republicans are not being truthful about problems in the coal industry. Coal in Virginia is suffering not from the EPA, but from several problems:

  • Gas is cheaper, and many coal plants have converted to natural gas, reducing the demand for coal.
  • Virginia coal production is difficult, since the coal is in mountains. Extraction costs less for coal producers in Wyoming, and they can sell for less, driving down the price of coal and Virginia coal’s profit margin.
  • Developing technology is against coal in the market, as wind and solar come into use, and cost of electricity produced by these methods is reduced by innovation and volume.
  • Coal is not a renewable resource. Predictions range from about 10 to about 30 years of coal production left in Virginia.

Burning coal does spill carbon into the atmosphere, and environmentalists will continue to work against it. Washing of coal also produces sludge that is harmful to the environment. Gas is cleaner, solar and wind are clean, and the environment is where we live and breathe. So the environmental point is well taken.

As clean coal technology progresses, we no longer have to trade our environment for electricity. The Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center (Dominion) in St. Paul (Wise County), is our largest and most modern coal-burning power plant, using coal, coal waste, and up to 20% biomass, and meeting EPA standards for carbon emission.

All of that said, politics is politics, and our Democrats may still lose the Ninth District because the clean coal message doesn’t fit in a soundbite and isn’t easy to share with people who won’t listen to you or talk to you.

I am three generations away from any actual coal miner, yet I know the words to a dozen songs that recount the heroism and endurance of coal miners. Here in the Ninth there are people who have no direct involvement, but who base their vote primarily on the coal issue. Many such voters do not know the market or the business of coal, but they identify with the culture, legend, and legacy – the song and story of coal. Perhaps this attachment explains in part why the UMWA and the mine owners supported Congressman Rick Boucher, a Democrat with a long friendship to coal, yet his Republican opponent won on the strength of the coal issue by proclaiming that President Obama had a war on coal. Boucher’s friendship was the true story, and still people believed the false GOP claim that Democrats had a war on coal.

Boucher hosted a recent fundraiser in Abingdon for Democrat Ralph Northam, who well deserves every Virginian’s vote for Lt. Governor on Election Day. Boucher continues to work for the Ninth in support of clean coal, and is among leading Democrats involved in The CoalBlue Project, a significant project for both sustainable coal usage and the environment.

If sustainable coal production and jobs is the goal, we owe our votes to Democrats in this election, because Democrats are the ones working on the real issues. A war is exciting, but in coal there is no war. There are resources and results that need to be managed. Democrats have the better plan for coal and energy, just as Democrats have the better plan for transportation, education, business, health care and keeping Virginia a good place for people to live.

GOP ticket in Virginia has a bad record on public safety

by Brian Coy
Aug 19, 2013

Senator Herring and Public Safety Advocate Lori Haas: Republican Ticket’s Safety Record is Dangerous for Virginia

Senator Mark Herring and Lori Haas from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence on Monday discussed Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Obenshain’s extreme record on public safety. Senator Mark Herring said:

Throughout his career in the State Senate and as Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli has a long record of putting his extreme agenda and personal interests ahead of what is best for Virginians’ safety. His extreme running-mate Mark Obenshain has joined him many times in opposing commonsense safety proposals.

Cuccinelli and Obenshain have both voted to allow guns on school grounds and to allow guns and missiles in airport terminals. The two both voted against increasing a fine on repeat drunk drivers by just $25 to fund state trauma centers, and Obenshain opposed legislation that would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor for a person who is under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs to carry a loaded firearm in a public place.

“Cuccinelli and Obenshain’s positions aren’t just bad policy–they are so far out of the mainstream that it would hinder our police and law enforcement officials’ ability to do their jobs, and put our Commonwealth, and especially our children, in danger,” stated Lori Haas.

Herring also commented on the likely impacts of Ken Cuccinelli’s extreme tax plan on local law enforcement and public safety, noting, “Ken Cuccinelli’s proposal for a $1.4 billion tax cut is just another budget gimmick. His refusal to explain how he will pay for it would likely result in additional stress on municipal budgets for police, fire, and schools that Virginia’s communities just can’t afford.”

Haas concluded, “We need leaders who will prioritize our safety, support our public safety officials, and address the real issues that will prevent more tragedies from occurring in the future, like the diagnosis, treatment, and awareness of mental health issues.”

Terry McAuliffe nailed it with this ad:

Terry McAuliffe’s ad shown below calls his opponent out for wasting taxpayer money and not doing his job. His opponent wasted taxpayer money suing the federal government over Obamacare, opposing transportation and infrastructure spending, and — as this ad shows — trying to impose a political ideology on scientific research. An Attorney General is supposed to look after the interests of Virginia and Virginians, not litigate against the best interest of the Commonwealth and his constituents.