The debate over a proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency that would strictly limit carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants has hit Virginia full force.
As Republicans criticized the Obama administration's proposal, the League of Conservation Voters and Moms Clean Air Force was launching a "seven-figure TV ad buy" in support of the regulations which would limit emissions from new power plants.
Richmond is one of 12 major media markets in three states and DC where the ads will air.
The proposed EPA standards would apply only to new plants, but opponents argue that they would essentially block any new coal-fired plants like those that have helped sustain Southwest Virginia's economy for decades.
"The EPA is simply following the Clean Air Act -- passed by Congress with bipartisan support -- and two Supreme Court decisions by issuing the first national standard on dangerous carbon pollution that spews from the smokestacks of electric power plants every day," said league president Gene Karpinski.
Meanwhile, Republicans were portraying the suggested rules as an overreach and an attack on the coal and mining industries and the regions they support.
"President Obama is keeping his word and making sure that the coal industry goes bankrupt with this new rule, and that will bankrupt Southwest Virginia," said Pete Snyder, Republican Party of Virginia 2012 Victory chairman.
Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-9th, said the rule was just the latest hit on his region's economy courtesy of the current administration, adding that he feared what would happen if Obama were re-elected.
"I worry that the president and (EPA administrator) Lisa Jackson will feel more flexible after the election, after they've had a little space to think about it, and may start applying ... this rule to existing coal power plants," he said.
If approved, the regulations would require new plants to limit emissions to 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour. Coal plants typically emit between 1,600 and 1,900 pounds per megawatt hour.
Republican US Senate contender George Allen jumped out against the regulations, saying they would "devastate our economy and force families and small-business owners to shoulder the burden of skyrocketing electricity bills."
Asked about the issue, Democratic US Senate nominee Timothy M. Kaine said he "definitely had concerns" but added "any plant that we build tomorrow should be cleaner than plants that were built yesterday."
Kaine noted that the regulations are not final and are open to public comment.
"If the proposed rule is too tough, then we figure out what the right emissions levels are," he said.
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch, VA