Bad, Governor. Bad, Coal.

Despite having campaigned as a green governor and introduced a ‘green’ energy plan, Virginia’s Governor Tom Kaine is not living up to his claims. While Kathleen Sebelius (KS) is withstanding intense heat from industry lobbyists and state legislators for her opposition to a coal plant expansion, the only campaign promise Gov. Kaine is keeping is to Dominion Power, which gave at least $135,000 to his campaign.

As Glenn Hurowitz notes over at Huffington Post – energy-efficient light bulbs just aren’t enough…

Meanwhile, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano is celebrating the world’s largest solar plant slated for construction 70 miles outside Phoenix.

The plant has been named Solana, and will have a capacity of 280 megawatts, “enough to power 70,000 homes while avoiding over 400,000 tons of greenhouse gases” the company said. Construction of the Solana Generating Station will create about 1,500 construction jobs, and it would employ 85 full-time workers once it’s operational, Abengoa Solar said.

A few thoughts come to mind. I’d like to think the difference is that Arizona has a renewable portfolio standard, while Virginia does not (nor Kansas) – hence the battles. But, as we’re seeing in Kansas right now, the difference is that oh-so-tempting-mistress, money.

But their money is heading the wrong direction. Coal shouldn’t be paying for permission to build; they should be paying for permission to pollute (or trying to figure out how to pollute significantly less). Some argue that carbon constraints would devastate industries like coal because the changes they’d have to make would be too expensive.

Grant me a crazy thought here: Is it just me, or have they got a lot of money they’re throwing around irresponsibly? How would those numbers line up? Candidate donations, bribes to universities, the cost of supporting presidential primary debates, lobbying the Hill, PR campaigns … versus what it would cost to invest in researching carbon capture technology, scrubbers, biomass co-firing retrofits, or preparing for a carbon cap.

Their spending choices certainly don’t make me think “Oh poor coal” once we put a price on carbon. And as for Gov. Kaine – we had higher expectations,and in this era of scrutinizing coal, shame on you if you thought you could fool your constituents and environmentalists.

— Kari M.

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