WSJ: In Virginia House Race, Cap and Trade Matters

From today’s Wall Street Journal.  It’s also an interesting look into how the larger corporations actively work with Big Green, because they know they can absorb the damage the radical green agenda does to our economy while smaller competitors are wiped out, leaving the market place to them.

WASHINGTON—Rep. Rick Boucher (D., Va.) took a risky bet when he voted last year for a cap-and-trade bill to reduce greenhouse gases. Now, the decision is coming back to haunt him.

Hoping to unseat Mr. Boucher in Virginia’s 9th District, Republican candidate Morgan Griffith is hammering away at the congressman’s vote on the cap-and-trade bill.

Mr. Griffith characterizes Mr. Boucher’s vote as a betrayal of the coal industry and the mining companies that provide much-needed jobs in the district. Unemployment in 9th District counties has reached 9.1%, which is higher than the state average of 7%, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.

While Mr. Boucher appears likely to win re-election, it won’t be easy. He will probably win by the narrowest margin since 1984…

…The dynamics of the 9th District congressional race illustrate the risk lawmakers face in casting politically sensitive votes on energy and environmental issues. These votes have become particularly dicey as the federal government moves to curb global warming and shift away from coal and other traditional fuel sources…

…”The cap-and-trade bill has been enormously unpopular in places like the 9th district because it appears—like it or not—to be anti-coal,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

The 9th district occupies the southwest part of Virginia, a rolling landscape known as “hills and hollers” territory. Workers labor in coal mines or work for companies that support mining operations.

The mining jobs are among the most lucrative in the district, with an average weekly wage of $1,250. These jobs are evaporating, however: Mining employment is projected to drop by 6.3% between 2008 and 2018, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.

Political strategists first realized district voters were tracking cap-and-trade policies last year. That’s when voters in Buchanan, Russell and Tazewell counties booted out a Democrat incumbent in the General Assembly in favor of a young Republican newcomer, Will Morefield, who criticized the cap-and-trade proposals

…While visiting a mine owned by Consol Energy Inc. in June, Mr. Griffith climbed up the side of a bulldozer to introduce himself to the driver. But before he could finish, the driver interrupted him and said, “All I care about is whether you’re going to vote for coal or against coal.”

“I think the vote on cap and trade shocked them,” Mr. Griffith said. “They couldn’t believe [Boucher] would vote against coal.”

Some voters may turn on Mr. Boucher because of his cap-and-trade vote. But coal and power companies and their employees, such as Dominion Resources Inc., Edison International and American Electric Power Co., continue to back the incumbent.

Mr. Boucher is the number-one recipient of campaign contributions from utility-company employees and political-action committees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He is also the fifth-largest recipient in the House of Representatives of contributions from coal-company employees and political-action committees.

The Boucher race illustrates a disconnect between voters and the coal and power industries regarding the inevitability of greenhouse-gas limits.

Many industry lobbyists believe the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or Congress will impose some type of greenhouse-gas reductions. Assuming this, some lobbyists want lawmakers such as Mr. Boucher to help to shape the outcome…

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