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To quote Joe Biden, "This is a big fuckin' deal":

Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday that he supports new Environmental Protection Agency rules on carbon emissions, taking a clear stance for the first time on an issue that has become a key flashpoint in the Virginia governor’s race.

The EPA unveiled guidelines two weeks ago that would limit the amount of carbon that future coal- and gas-fired plants can emit into the atmosphere, likely making it difficult for any new coal-powered plants to be built. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, the Republican nominee for governor, has said the rules would be devastating to Virginia’s coal industry, and has accused McAuliffe (D) of being an accomplice to the Obama administration’s alleged “war on coal.”

McAuliffe has repeatedly declined to take a position on the subject, first saying he was waiting for the guidelines to be released and then, once they were, stating that he needed time to review them.

Asked about the issue again Tuesday during a tour of the Tyson’s Corner technology firm MicroTech, McAuliffe initially avoided a clear position again, saying: “I think we have to look at when the permits [for new coal plants] come in and look at how it applies and what the regulations are.” - Washington Post, 10/1/13

Here's a little background history on McAuliffe and this issue:

McAuliffe has tried to draw a stark contrast with Republican Ken Cuccinelli II. He ridicules Cuccinelli’s skepticism toward the scientific consensus that people are warming the Earth.

But when pressed for detail about his own views, McAuliffe often sticks to broad outlines. Four years after his first run for governor, the Democrat has backed away from his opposition to coal-fired power, and he has newly embraced offshore drilling. He has declined to say where he stands on new emissions standards that the EPA is due to release Friday. He speaks broadly of the need for greater investment in green energy while also cautioning that coal jobs must be preserved.

McAuliffe’s tightrope walk results in part from an effort not to alienate the energy sector or the thousands of voters in southwest Virginia who work in the coal industry. At a time when Republicans are blitzing those Virginians with advertisements about the Obama administration’s “war on coal,” McAuliffe appears to be trying to keep his distance.

The Democrat also must navigate the challenging publicity surrounding his stewardship of GreenTech Automotive, an electric-car company under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. McAuliffe has at times avoided promoting his own investment in green energy, presumably because it gives Republicans a chance to remind voters of his involvement with the troubled company.

Mostly, when the topic of the environment arises, McAuliffe talks about Cuccinelli.

McAuliffe and his environmentalist supporters have characterized Cuccinelli as a science denier, as demonstrated by the legal challenge that Cuccinelli mounted soon after becoming attorney general in 2010 to the EPA’s decision to regulate greenhouse gases implicated in global warming.

Cuccinelli is also known for his controversial attempt to investigate a climate researcher at the University of Virginia. McAuliffe has said that Cuccinelli’s investigation of Michael Mann shows why the Republican would be “bad for business.” - Washington Post, 9/19/13

Environmental billionaire Tom Steyer, who is backing McAuliffe's campaign, for a while had to go on the defensive when it comes to McAuliffe's environmental record:

Billionaire activist Tom Steyer admits that Terry McAuliffe is no Sen. Ed Markey when it comes to championing energy and environmental issues.

But he says the Virginia Democrat has a strong green record that justifies putting big money into his campaign for governor.

“I think there is a big difference between Markey and McAuliffe in the way they talk,” Steyer told POLITICO on Wednesday. “But he’s running in Virginia and he’s very much in the mainstream of progressive Virginia thought.”

The comments acknowledge that the political reality in Virginia is vastly different than in Massachusetts, where Steyer orchestrated an outside spending campaign focused on climate and the Keystone XL pipeline to support Markey in this year’s special Senate election.

Markey, a Democrat, is one of the most vocal advocates for climate action in Congress and made global warming and other energy issues a key part of his campaign — a theme that Steyer echoed through his super PAC, the NextGen Climate Action Committee. But the tone of the Virginia race is very different.

McAuliffe supports offshore oil drilling and, in an effort not to alienate voters in Southwest Virginia coal country, has distanced himself from his 2009 comments that he would “never want another coal plant built.” And he has so far declined to stake out a position on EPA’s newly proposed climate regulation for future power plants, with his office saying it’s reviewing the rule’s economic effect on Virginia. - Politico, 9/25/13

Now here's why I think this is a big fuckin' deal, especially with McAuliffe running in Virginia:

Coal-country Democrats aren't eager to talk about the Environmental Protection Agency's new emission regulations for power plants expected to be released later this week, which could put them in a tough position between the pressures of regional politics and party loyalty.

The new limits are expected to effectively require carbon capture—a still-developing technology—for all new coal-fired plants in order to meet emission standards. That has drawn backlash from many in the coal industry, but most Democrats from coal-heavy regions have largely been hesitant to speak out.

The regulations are a cornerstone of President Obama's action plan for addressing climate change, with coal-burning power plants known as one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases in the country. But the coal industry, producers of a relatively cheap and abundant energy source, would be hit hard by the EPA rules, as higher operating costs for power plants lead utilities to switch to lower-cost and lower-emitting natural gas.

Such breaks with Obama's policy are often necessary for Democrats from coal-heavy areas, said one Pennsylvania Democratic operative who requested anonymity to protect a current candidate. "People have a general perception of the parties," he said. "[Democrats] almost have to be more vocal than the Republicans sometimes because you don't want to be painted with that broad brush. It also kind of symbolizes who you're for. It's not just an energy issue; it's a cultural issue. Being against coal can mean to voters that you're against the working class, you're an elitist." - National Journal, 9/19/13

Emphasis mine.

So you can see why I think this is not only good news but big news.  Democrats in coal states have been afraid of standing up to the coal industry because the coal industry will spend big to make Democrats look like job killers.  This also strengthens McAuliffe's position as the true environmental candidate in this race.  Especially since environmental groups have been heavily involved in this race to take out Cuccinelli:

ARLINGTON, VA, AUGUST 29, 2013:  Ken Cuccinelli listens during a joint forum on energy at GMU School of Law Auditorium. According to the latest polls, Democrat Terry McAuliffe has a 6 point lead in the race to become Virginia's next governor. McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli never met during the entire event. (Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The Sierra Club launched a new website on Thursday attacking Virginia's Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli's positions on environmental issues as "extreme."

The site,, targets Cuccinelli's efforts as attorney general to subpoena the records of a climate scientist at the University of Virginia, as well as his opposition to federal environmental standards.

The group accused Cuccinelli of "trying to hide" from his record of statements questioning the human role in climate change. The candidate avoided questions on the subject from reporters at an event last week.

"For years, those of us fighting for clean air, clean water, and climate action have seen Ken Cuccinelli abuse his authority, waste taxpayer dollars, and sacrifice our healthy future for his extreme agenda," said Glen Besa, state director for the Sierra Club of Virginia, in a statement. "We're not going to let him hide this extreme record from Virginia voters while he runs for Governor." - Huffington Post, 9/5/13

Of course Republicans are already trying to label McAuliffe as a job killer for supporting the EPA's new rules:

Virginia Republicans quickly pounced Tuesday on McAuliffe’s latest comment.

“Let’s sum up @TerryMcAuliffe’s morning: supports new rules that will kill coal in #SWVA, will shut down VA gov’t for Obamacare. Wow,” the Republican Party of Virginia’s Twitter account chimed in.

Cuccinelli later released a statement saying McAuliffe “finally admitted his full support for the War on Coal” and “demonstrates my opponent has been deliberately misleading Virginians during this campaign by suggesting he supports the coal industry.” The Republican attorney general said the “regulations are legally tenuous, and if I’m governor, you can count on me to fight them.”

McAuliffe made his comment as he and the other top two members of the Virginia Democratic ticket running for statewide office toured the facilities of a northern Virginia company in order to “condemn Cuccinelli’s Tea Party allies in Congress for forcing a shutdown of the federal government,” according to a campaign advisory.

McAuliffe campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin later told POLITICO that the Democratic candidate “believes that limits on carbon pollution at new power plants should be implemented in an effective manner to encourage innovation and protect clean air.”

“Unlike Ken Cuccinelli, Terry will support new energy technologies to allow the Commonwealth’s energy economy to further grow and diversify while protecting existing jobs,” Schwerin said by email. “Ken Cuccinelli’s commitment to driving out scientists he disagrees with will undermine Virginia’s ability to develop new technologies that drive 21st Century energy jobs.” - Politico, 10/1/13

Expect Cuccinelli and the GOP to keep up with these attacks until election day.  I for one am happy to hear McAuliffe come out in support of the EPA's new rules regarding coal.  Lets make sure his campaign is well fueled to make sure voters get out for McAuliffe on election day:

Originally posted to pdc on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 08:25 AM PDT.

Also republished by Virginia Kos, Climate Change SOS, Climate Hawks, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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