American Commitment: “Vote Coal: Vote Against Tim Kaine”

An ad from American Commitment seeks to portray Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine (D) as an enemy of coal, accusing him of unfairly taking credit for a new coal plant in the state and of supporting EPA regulations that would harm the coal industry. But as governor Kaine did actively support clean coal development, including the plant the ad highlights. And while he supports a rule to reduce mercury emissions, which likely won’t impact the plant in question, he’s hedged on support for a more controversial greenhouse gas limitation, citing concerns the rule’s impact on coal.

As Governor, Kaine Explicitly Supported Wise County Plant And Clean Coal Development

To support the idea that Kaine played no role in supporting the Wise County plant, on-screen text reads: “No one was familiar with any role that Mr. Kaine had in getting the plant going.”

The Ad Quotes An Article Highlighting Locals’ Lack Of Knowledge Of Kaine’s Role In Plant, Not Proving He Had No Role. From the New York Times article cited by American Commitment: “Mr. Kaine’s approach is to mix his pitch for bipartisanship with localized boasts about his record as governor, a record that he hopes will differentiate him from the president. A key to that record is the looming Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, a state-of-the-art 585-megawatt coal-fired power plant on the outskirts of St. Paul that started commercial operations on Thursday. Mr. Kaine mentions the plant virtually everywhere he goes as an antidote to efforts to link him to Obama administration policies that have been tough on coal. […] In more than a dozen interviews in St. Paul, no one was familiar with any role that Mr. Kaine had in getting the plant going. As recently as March, the former governor toured the plant in a campaign swing. It did not seem to make an impression. […] Among Democrats in Bristol, word that not even the residents of St. Paul knew of Mr. Kaine’s role in the giant plant elicited concern.” [New York Times, 7/19/12, emphasis added]

Kaine Included Plant In His Virginia Energy Plan. From Energy Daily: “Dominion has welcomed the granting of a certificate of public convenience and necessity by the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) for the company’s proposed 585-megawatt Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center. […] The station has received broad support from elected officials, business leaders and the local community. The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation in 2004 calling for the power station to be built, and incorporated this statutory authorization in its 2007 amendments to the Electric Utility Restructuring Act. The power station is included in Gov. Timothy Kaine’s Virginia Energy Plan.” [, 8/1/08]

Kaine Wrote Letter In Support Of Plant’s Stimulus Grant Application. From a Dominion Virginia Power press release: “Dominion Virginia Power applied Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Energy for a $200 million stimulus grant to accelerate the installation of 2.4 million ‘smart meters’ for its customers. […] Letters of support to Energy Secretary Steven Chu from Gov. Tim Kaine and Virginia’s congressional delegation accompanied the application. ‘Dominion’s voltage conservation technology is an important attribute of this grant proposal,’ Gov. Kaine wrote. ‘Voltage conservation allows the utility to more precisely match the voltage going into each customer to the needs of the customer. This creates energy savings throughout the day and concomitant savings in carbon and other emissions.’” [Dominion Virginia Power Press Release via, 8/6/09]

Kaine Signed Bill Encouraging Clean Coal Development. In May 2006, Gov. Kaine signed SB 262 into law. From the text of SB 262: “To achieve the objectives enumerated in § 67-101, it shall be the policy of the Commonwealth to … [p]romote research and development of clean coal technologies, including but not limited to integrated gasification combined cycle systems. […] To the extent authorized by federal law, the State Air Pollution Control Board shall implement permit processes that facilitate the construction of clean coal projects in the Commonwealth by, among such other actions as it deems appropriate, giving priority to processing permit applications for clean coal projects.” [, accessed 10/17/12]

Most Power Plants Already Comply With Utility MACT Regulations Kaine Supports

Kaine Supports Utility MACT Regulations But Is “Concerned” About Greenhouse Gas Limits’ Impact On Coal. From the Bluefield Daily Telegraph: “Kaine said he has mixed feelings regarding new federal Environmental Protection Agency rules that are impacting the coal industry. ‘The Utility MACT regulations — I accept those,’ Kaine said. ‘The plant in Wise meets those. I don’t think we ought to scale them back. A second regulation that the EPA has that I’m more concerned about is the proposed green house gas limits. They set I think that which is very favorable for natural gas bas and not favorable for coal. There is an industry comment going on now about this. I would very much work for a threshold that wouldn’t make energy impossible. Let’s encourage innovation in coal. But you’ve got to have standards that are reasonable and not so far out of reach that everyone gives up.’” [Bluefield Daily Telegraph, 10/17/12]

Most Power Plants Already Comply With MACT Standards, And Non-Compliant Plants Can Install New Technology Rather Than Close. From the Congressional Research Service: “In 2005, EPA promulgated regulations establishing a cap-and-trade system to limit emissions of mercury from coal-fired power plants. The rules were challenged, and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated them in 2008. Rather than appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, EPA agreed to propose and promulgate Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards by the end of 2011. EPA states that the standards for existing units, promulgated February 16, 2012, can be met by 56% of coal- and oil-fired electric generating units using pollution control equipment already installed; the other 44% would be required to install technology that will reduce uncontrolled mercury and acid gas emissions by about 90%, at an annual cost of $9.6 billion.” [Congressional Research Service via, 10/5/12, internal citations removed]

Wise County Plant Is Already Subject To Mercury Emissions Limits. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Both sides in a dispute over a coal-fired power plant in far Southwest Virginia said they were happy after the state issued a new permit for the plant yesterday. David K. Paylor, director of the state Department of Environmental Quality, issued the permit shortly after a Richmond Circuit Court judge released an order setting aside the original permit. The judge, Margaret P. Spencer, had ruled Aug. 10 that the old permit did not sufficiently limit mercury pollution. But she didn’t issue her order until yesterday, sending the issue back to the state. The new permit includes a 4.45-pound-per-year mercury limit that was in the previous permit. But the new permit removes a provision that allowed that limit to be loosened if the plant had trouble meeting it.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/3/09]

In A Petition On Its Site, American Commitment Cites United Mine Workers President’s Statement On An EPA Regulation To Prop Up The Idea That Kaine Is Hostile To Coal. From a petition on American Commitment’s website: “Tim Kaine claims to support coal, but he supports policies and regulations that are destroying the coal industry.  Tim Kaine has long-supported policies that are directly responsible for the loss of coal jobs and increase in electricity prices. […] Mines are being closed. The latest announcement came from Alpha Natural Resources, which is laying off 1,200 coal miners, citing ‘a regulatory environment that’s aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal.’ The strongest words of anger against this regulatory destruction of the coal industry came from Cecil Roberts, the president of the United Mine Workers: ‘The Navy SEALs shot Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan and [Obama EPA Administrator] Lisa Jackson shot us in Washington. This rule is an all-out, in my opinion, decision by the EPA that we’re never going to have another coal-fired facility in the United States that’s constructed.’  […] Tim Kaine is on board with Obama’s plan to bankrupt coal. Virginia deserves better.” [, accessed 10/17/12, emphasis and underlining original]

  • But UMW Endorsed Kaine Over Allen. According the United Mine Workers of America website, the union has endorsed Tim Kaine for U.S. Senate. [, accessed 10/17/12]

[MALE VOICEOVER:] Tim Kaine recently took to the air, claiming credit for the new coal plant in Wise County. But here on the ground, we know better. The day they broke ground, Tim Kaine was already off raising money for his future boss, Barack Obama. Now, Kaine supports EPA regulations that would have prevented this plant from being built and closed countless others. A vote against Tim Kaine is a vote against coal, our communities, and our jobs. [NARRATOR:] Vote coal. Vote against Tim Kaine. American Commitment is responsible for the content of this advertising. [American Commitment via, 10/13/12]