Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli arrived early for the Town Hall in Abingdon on Thursday, Sept. 2nd, and he circulated among the gathering crowd in a very personable manner, followed along at a discrete distance by Morgan Griffith, Virginia State Representative from the 8th District, who is running against Congressman Rich Boucher for the Ninth District seat in the U.S. Congress. The topic of the town hall was of course Cap and Trade, the issue that Griffith has defined as the vulnerable point for Boucher in the Ninth.
Knowing the issue well and being familiar with the rhetoric surrounding it as well as the stark reality of the human and environmental cost of coal and oil production, I heard little new in Mr. Cuccinelli’s presentation. He did, however, reference a study by the Heritage Foundation showing Virginia utility rates doubling by 2035 due to Cap and Trade. He also predicted that Virginia would lose 50,000 associated jobs. He said that many studies had been made, but this was the “most credible study.”
I was unable to find the study that Mr. Cuccinelli cited on the Heritage Foundation web page, and I went to Mr. Cuccinelli’s web page to see if he had posted a link to the study, but I could not find it there either. I went back today for another search. The site has no search function, and I went through many menus, finally locating the figures that were quoted in a “paper,” not a study.
So I can stop wondering how the “credible” study was constructed, whether it took into account the projected development of clean energy production, or whether it considered jobs created in clean energy in the job loss prediction. It does not matter what it considers, because it is a paper and not a study. The predictions in the paper have the same weight as the claim that I remember did so much damage to the fight for an Equal Rights Amendment for women, the one that said if we had an equal rights amendment women would all have to grow chest hair. But a paper is not a study. I digress.
The predictions of the paper were given more credibility by inclusion as a slide in Mr. Cuccinelli’s PowerPoint presentation.
The lone speaker at the Town Hall for environmental issues was repeatedly interrupted with shouts of “Sit down!” and “Shut up!” Mr. Cuccinelli interrupted him to ask “Do you have a question?” This was surprising, since he had explained earlier that some of the best ideas put forward by legislators in Richmond come from constituents, and told folks he was here to hear questions, comments, and suggestions.
The USA may be the last place in the world to have clean energy because our elected officials are deeply invested in and indebted to dirty energy at both state and federal levels. They actively deny opportunity in research and development, or we would already be burning coal cleaner than we do. Mr. Cuccinelli pointed out one such denial, Virginia’s refusal to consider even a portion of the $10,000,000 cost of carbon sequestration research in a rate hike request by a Dominion Power. This denial was also in his PowerPoint. He was taking credit for making sure that the power company did not pass along the cost of this R&D effort to the consumer.
The actual difference between the position of Rick Boucher and the position of Morgan Griffith in the matter of Cap and Trade is minimal, and the difference in what actually comes about will never be known. We will elect one or the other and never be able to compare them. Of course the loser in the contest always gets political sniping rights, so whomever we elect, the other one will be able to say he could have done better. That is the way politics works.
I hope that people in the Ninth recognize the ability that Congressman Boucher has to represent them in Washington, that they will think of the clean water, jobs, broadband, roads, and other infrastructure that he has brought to the Ninth District. Surely they can see his commitment to coal if they are looking. I can see it very clearly, and I wish he had a little less commitment to coal. But coal production is one of those complex issues that would get better for everyone if we could look straight at it and work on creating better processes.
I hope also that Ninth District voters in November will remember Congressman Boucher’s many services to individuals in the district, both Democrat and Republican. If a person lives in the Ninth and cannot personally name four or five people who have been assisted over the years by Congressman Boucher, that person has not been paying attention.