Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Governors and Energy: Bob McDonnell

bob_mcdonnell The governors-elect in this case being Bob McDonnell in Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey. We’ll let the political blogs worry about what the win of two Republicans in previously Democratic-run states means (and that means no partisanship in the comments, please) and take a look at their energy policies.

Let’s start with Bob McDonnell. Of the two, he comes closest to adapting the general tone struck by the national Republican party regarding energy, meaning he’s all in on all sources:

Bob McDonnell supports the safe offshore exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas 50 miles off the coast of Virginia. This is not only an issue of energy independence and national security, but the development of Virginia’s offshore energy reserves will mean thousands of new jobs, billions of dollars in new investment, and hundreds of millions in new tax revenue to the Commonwealth.


In 2006, the economic impact of the coal mining industry in Virginia was nearly $2.4 billion, creating 11,082 jobs, 8,884 of which are located in Southwest Virginia. Bob McDonnell will continue to support Virginia’s coal plants that use modern technology to offer a balance between cost, reliability and environmental impact.

Well, hey, what about nuclear? McDonnell wants more of it:

Bob McDonnell strongly supports the North Anna Unit 3 nuclear power plant development. As a reliable provider of more than 20 percent of Virginia’s electricity, the North Anna Power Station generates more than $710 million in economic benefits to the state. The direct economic benefit of electricity production at North Anna’s two reactors is $600 million. The secondary economic benefits to the state are another $111 million, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute. The power station is an integral part of the local economy, employing nearly 1,000 people. The direct and indirect compensation from the power plant – in the form of employee compensation and labor income for other workers within the state – totals more than $150 million annually. A third unit at North Anna would benefit the state and local economies by creating well-paying jobs, approximately 4,000 to 5,000 jobs during construction and approximately 700 permanent positions once in operation.

We agree with that assessment.

McDonnell does not leave out our renewable cousins, but they definitely take second seat:

Currently, Virginia is the second largest importer of electricity behind California. This is unacceptable. While we have made great strides in the Commonwealth to form a comprehensive energy plan – we are in the infancy stage of creating a plan to provide affordable renewable energy in the future. Green energy must be cultivated to make it commercially practical and affordable. Renewables will certainly play an integral role in our energy future, but now we must take a comprehensive approach.

We thought McDonnell may have missed an opportunity here.

“Let’s put ideology aside and be comprehensive when it comes to our energy future.  Yes, we must develop new technologies for wind, solar, biomass, and other renewables.  But we also need oil and natural gas, and to speed up the approval and permitting process for nuclear and clean-coal plants.

That’s better, although it’s clear that renewables are considered nascent technologies in the state (remember, too, that Virginia governors only get one four-year term, which encourages thinking in the near-term so as to compile some achievements in a short time.)

We’ll take a look at Chris Christie’s energy plan a little later today.

Governor-elect Bob McDonnell with daughter Jeanine. Congratulations to him!

Virginia is one of four states to call itself a commonwealth – the others are Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. The word is self-defining – the wealth of the state is held by the commons (i.e., everyone).

Virginia is unique in that all its cities – 39 of them – are free standing entities with no county apparatus. Only Baltimore and St. Louis are similarly incorporated.

Finally, Maryland and Virginia both contributed land to create Washington DC. However, Virginia took back its portion in the run-up to the Civil War but, um, didn’t return it later.

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