When Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was running for Governor, he was unapologetic about presenting himself as a denier of modern science and man-made climate change, taking a huge portion of his campaign finance contributions from oil, gas, and coal interests. His challenger, Democrat and now-Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe, was his polar opposite — he overtly spoke about addressing the detrimental effects of global warming and publicly embraced President Obama’s proposed guidelines on carbon pollution from new power plants.
Now, those same donors who contributed so much to Cuccinelli’s climate denier campaign are setting their sights on McAuliffe.
According to recent campaign finance reports posted on the Virginia Board of Elections site, McAuliffe’s Inaugural Committee has received $25,000 from Alpha Natural Resources, an $8 billion coal company that gave $92,500 to Cuccinelli’s campaign. Dominion Resources, a Virginia-based coal, gas, and nuclear conglomerate that gave Cuccinelli $75,000, has given McAuliffe’s committee $50,000.
It should be noted that both companies also donated to McAuliffe’s gubernatorial campaign as well, but to a lesser extent. During the case, McAuliffe received $60,000 from Dominion and just $10,000 from Alpha.
The donations can be seen as attempts to curry favor with McAuliffe, who won the race with significant support from environmentalists. Southwest Virginia’s economy has been heavily tied to its coal since the late 1800s — an industry which now may feel threatened by a Democratic governor who supports cutting carbon pollution. Coalbed methane gas, which was once considered a useless byproduct of the coal mining process, is now booming in the state, as companies have found ways to extract the natural gas and burn it for energy.
During his campaign, McAuliffe made Cuccinelli’s climate-change denial a liability, hammering Cuccinelli on his “cozy ties” with the fossil fuel industry and his illegal campaign to use taxpayer dollars to investigate a climate scientist whose policies he didn’t agree with. In contract, Cuccinelli ran ads accusing McAuliffe of wanting a “war on coal,” encouraging audiences to exhale carbon dioxide just to annoy the Environmental Protection Agency.
A list of some of the dirty energy contributions Cuccinelli received while running for governor can be found here.