Gubernatorial candidates focus on the environment

Posted at 12:12 AM, Sep 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-22 13:22:09-04

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) -- With a little more than a month remaining until Virginia elects its next governor, Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe and Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli turned their focus to environmental issues Saturday in Richmond.

At an event sponsored by a local conservation group, Virginia Forever, both candidates attacked their opponent's background their environmental stances.

"I believe the scientific consensus that climate change is real.  It's happening, and it's caused by our continued actions," said McAuliffe.  "I know that Attorney General and I disagree on that."

Cuccinelli, Virginia's current Attorney General, has recently faced scrutiny from groups like the Sierra Club, who claim he denies that global warming is the result of energy consumption.  The group has published a website attacking Cuccinelli for what they characterize as his failure to address the issue publicly.

On Saturday, Cuccinelli fired back by painted McAuliffe as a Washington insider. Cuccinelli focused a portion of his remarks on the coal industry and how it relates to Virginia's economy.

"The war on coal is a war on the poor in Virginia," said Cuccinelli.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Friday a proposal that would limit the amount of emissions produced by newly built coal-fired power plants.

Cuccinelli has publicly expressed his disapproval of the proposed regulations.  Cuccinelli, a proponent of coal power, said they would take the "war on coal to another level."

"It's great to move into other areas of energy production, but we are a coal state.  We should not have a governor who is willing to set aside the people of southwest Virginia," Cuccinelli said.

Coal production and transportation is a key driver of the economy in portions of Virginia, Cuccinelli said.

Both candidates said future energy production will play a big role in the future of Virginia's economy.

"Those new technologies that I talk about, that's how you're going to create those energy jobs," said McAuliffe.

"I believe very strongly that a healthy economy goes hand in hand with a health environment," said Cuccinelli.