Virginia Senate surrenders in war on coal

Virginia Senate surrenders in war on coal
Coal mining still accounts for 40% of U.S. energy needs.

Bowing to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Virginia Senate reversed course and killed a bill that would have required General Assembly review of stricter carbon emission rules.

The defeat of Senate Bill 1365 in the waning hours of the 2015 legislative session will result in a “backdoor rate increase” for Virginia electric consumers, predicted Randy Randol, an energy consultant.

In an ironic twist, retiring state Republican Sen. John Watkins voted against his own proposal Friday. The 29-7 vote to strike SB 1365 from the calendar was a further erosion of state’s rights and a victory for the Obama administration’s ongoing war on coal.

After numerous revisions and dilutions – ping-ponged back and forth between the House and Senate — Watkins’s bill lost some of its teeth.

Initially, any carbon-emission proposals by Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Department of Environmental Quality would have to pass muster with the Republican-controlled General Assembly before they could be submitted to Washington.

The House passed the measure, 64-30. But Watkins and his colleagues weakened the bill along the way.

“You might as well call it the McAuliffe-Watkins bill,” Randol told

After a majority of Senate Republicans voted to kill SB 1365, Randol said a coalition of tea partyers and consumer activists would try to revive the idea next year.

Changing political calculus could work in their favor. Besides Watkins, fellow Republican Sens. Jeff McWaters and Walter Stosch – both of whom voted to strike SB 1365 from the calendar – are retiring this fall.

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Kenric Ward

Kenric Ward

Kenric Ward is a national correspondent and writes for the Texas Bureau of Formerly a reporter and editor at two Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers, Kenric has won dozens of state and national news awards for investigative articles. His most recent book is “Saints in Babylon: Mormons and Las Vegas.”

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