Dear Mr. McAuliffe: You’re Pretty Slick on Oil

Dear Mr. McAuliffe:

Your campaign consultant Mo Elleithee and some of your supporters are unhappy with my questions about your position on whether or not there should be drilling off the shore of Virginia Beach.

They have accused me of “false attacks” and “Rovian” tactics. I’ve been accused of “misrepresenting” your position. I’ve also been fingered as a supporter of your opponent Brian Moran. I am not. (At this point, I’m still trying to decide whether or not I will vote for Mr. Moran or Creigh Deeds.)

For reasons I’ve stated elsewhere on this blog and Twitter, I am strongly opposed to your candidacy. If you are our party’s nominee, I will not vote for you or Bob McDonnell.

That said, you may very will be the nominee of my party and you very well may become my governor.

That’s why I am writing you.

I have reviewed your 20 page energy plan and there are many good ideas included in it, but you have made no mention of your position on offshore drilling. There is not one word about the topic. That’s rather worrisome to me. (I’ve stated my reasons for opposition to drilling for gas and oil here.)

Given that the GOP’s nominee for Governor and Lt. Governor have made their support for offshore drilling central to their energy plans, I’m deeply concerned that you’ve omitted your views on this subject.

Your supporters assure me that in fact you are opposed to offshore drilling. Mr. Elleithee pointed to a newspaper article from before you were a candidate where you indicated that you favor exploration offshore for natural gas but not oil.

That’s great, but now that you are a candidate your energy plan doesn’t address the issue.

Was this an oversight?

Was this intentional?

What do you think the people at Shell Oil and Exxon Mobil have to say about this omission on your part? What signal does this send Exxon, Shell and other oil companies? (Shell, as you know, has already conducted exploratory drilling off the coast of our state. In recent years, they’ve had four lobbyists representing the company before the General Assembly.)

Separately, the U.S. Department of Interior asked for public comment in a key proceeding which will determine whether future drilling proceeds. The U.S. Navy, NASA and Congressman Jim Moran all filed comments opposing drilling. So did your opponent, Brian Moran. You and Creigh Deeds failed to file comments in this proceeding.

As the Department of Interior reviews these comments, your voice was not heard. Your vote goes uncounted. While statements of opposition to a newspaper reporter are nice, they don’t carry the weight of the law. Under the law, the Department of Interior must consider comments filed in its regulatory docket. They are free to ignore what you have said on the campaign trail.

I’ve posed these same questions to the campaign of Creigh Deeds. Interestingly, no one supporting Mr. Deeds or on the staff of his campaign have responded to my questions. They aren’t accusing me of false attacks. Why are your supporters and your employee Mr. Elleithee doing so?

I’ve reviewed the campaign finance records of the Democratic National Committee as posted on during your chairmanship and I’ve found that under your leadership, the DNC received a considerable amount of money from oil and natural gas companies and their employees. From this group:

  • In the 2000 cycle, the DNC raised $3,786,170.
  • In the 2002 cycle, the DNC raised $1,248, 810.
  • In the 2004 cycle, the DNC raised $1,291,167.
  • In the 2006 cycle, the DNC raised $295,757.

Now your chairmanship ran from 2000 to 2005, so I know not all this money was raised on your watch, but at least $2.5 million was. Probably the true number is closer to 3 or 4 million.

I’ve also reviewed the 1st quarter reports as analyzed by the Virginia Public Access Project. All told, those employed by oil companies and refineries gave nearly $20,000 to candidates running for Governor of Virginia. Not surprisingly, the campaign of Republican Bob McDonnell received some of this money — about 12% of those funds.

Guess who raised the remaining 88% of that money, Mr. McAuliffe? It was wasn’t Brian Moran or Creigh Deeds, it was you. And guess where most of it came from Mr. McAuliffe? Not Virginia. You raised it from people who live in Texas and Massachusetts who can’t vote for you.

All of this raises questions in my mind of just how serious your opposition to offshore drilling really is. Is your lack of participation in the Department of Interior comment cycle and the lack of any statement on offshore drilling in your 20 page energy plan really a wink and nod to the representatives of Big Oil who favor your campaign over those of the other three candidates?

There are three things you can do to ease my mind and make me rest easier about the prospects of offshore drilling should you become Governor:

  • File comments in the Department of Interior’s proceeding expressing your opposition to offshore drilling. The comment period is still open and awaits your input.
  • Amend your energy plan to include a policy statement explicitly opposing offshore drilling.
  • Return the contributions your campaign has received from the employees of Big Oil.

It would also serve you well to admonish Mr. Elleithee for his behavior. Repeatedly he has dodged my questions of him about this matter yet attacks me indirectly in a public forum, claiming that I am a supporter of Brian Moran. I am not. (What he does is attack employees of the Moran campaign for repeating my questions to you, yet he leaves my questions unanswered and criticizes the Moran campaign for repeating them)

As I said to Mr. Elleithee via Twitter earlier today: “You can ignore me, but you can’t ignore the truth: McAuliffe doesn’t have ONE word about offshore drilling in his energy plan.”

You can fix that Mr. Auliffe. You can and you should.


Fake Virginia

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Filed under environment

7 responses to “Dear Mr. McAuliffe: You’re Pretty Slick on Oil

  1. FV: I appreciate the line of inquiry, but it seems to harsh to me.

    The other night, Jon Stewart did a feature poking fun at wingnuts who promoted legislation to prevent things that just were not going to occur, just to make some wingnutty point, like Michelle Bachman’s bill to make sure the U.S. doesn’t abandon the dollar for a worldwide currency. He called it “Shit that just won’t happen,” or something along those lines.

    And now here you are, apparently making offshore drilling for oil — which, quite honestly I would classify as shit that ain’t gonna happen in the next five years — as a litmus test for Governor of Virgnia?

    I DO NOT speak for the Deeds campaign, but I did interview Creigh about this once. His position, explained at that time to me, was if there was likelihood that offshore drilling would yield a worthwhile amount of oil (which there is not) and if there is a way to do it without harming the environment (which there is not), then it is worthy of consideration, in the sense of never saying never. As a practical matter, given the conditions, it means the shit ain’t gonna happen, but as a matter of one’s approach to governance, it seems about right to me.

    If you need a blanket statement that we will never do it under any circumstance whatsoever, then that is simply advocating that an ideolog take the place of common sense and intelligent evalaution of facts and circumstances. I say, “No, thanks” to that. I think that kind of rigid approach to issues is what is driving the GOP to extinction; whether in the cause of conservative ideals or liberal ones, it is a form of know-nothingism in which a pledge aimed at an interest group for the purpose of earning a vote takes the place of thoughtful consideration.

    You seem more thoughtful to me than that.

    Again, just to be clear, I support Creigh, but I do not in any way, shape or form speak for him.

    • Thanks for the visit and the comment, but we may have to agree to disagree on this one. Because Virginia has a one term governorship, there are many things which a governor makes decisions on during that four years that don’t come to pass in that time. But their decisions are cumulative. Their decisions have consquences, too. Using your standard, voters shouldn’t be concerned about any issue where the governor’s decisions made during their term won’t reach fruition in their term.

      That sounds reasonable, except just about every major highway or rail project in the state falls into that category. So do many decisions about education. I believe this decision about offshore drilling does as well. Personally, I’m not willing to allow our four candidates a free pass on this issue or several others like it because the issue won’t be fully resolved before January 2014.

      Governor Kaine is a good example. While I voted for him and I think he’s been a good governor, he’s been taking the approach on offshore oil you advocate. Let’s study it, there’s no harm in exploration. That kind of thinking is how Shell Oil got to drill off the coast in the first place.

      My view is that we never needed that well drilled to know that there is not enough oil or natural gas off the coast to justify the environmental risks to our commercial fishing and tourism economies. What we need is a governor who will take a tougher line than Governor Kaine and just say no.

      I’m not interested in another governor who will kick this can down the street. On this issue, it’s pretty clear that we don’t need more study. (That’s like Altria calling on the National Institutes of Health to do more research on the link between lung cancer and smoking before the FDA is given the authority to regulate the sale of cigarettes.)

      What I want is a governor who will say up front, no. You’re the only Deeds supporter who has described his position and you’ve done so pretty clearly and not defensively. The McAuliffe crowd has taken a different approach. They want to fuzz up their candidates position and take umbrage if they are asked questions about it. On this issue, Brian Moran shares my position.

      From a purely political point of view, the kick the can approach would probably make a candidate more electable. But I’m beyond that.

      For me, this is a religious issue. My faith teaches me that we need to be stewards of our environment and in recent years, we’ve failed at that.

      If you see me as an ideolog on this, that’s OK, I plead guilty.

      • FV – I wasn’t calling you an idelogue is a perjorative sort of way. At least, I hope it didn’t come off as name-calling, because I didn’t mean it that way.

        You say, “For me, this is a religious issue.” For me, it’s not. I certainly don’t want oil rigs off our coast, but whether we get there because our governor defines standards that aren’t me, or whether we reach that goal because of an unalterable promise (as if there were such a thing!) doesn’t matter to me.

        I appreciate that you think Brian Moran’s promise on this matches your own position, but any politician’s promise is just a changed circumstance away from no longer being operative. In a pracical world, all Democrats would allow drilling if the circumstances were compelling enough, IMHO, because as facts change, so do opinions. Creigh is just saying what everyone knows to be the truth.

        • Oh I know you weren’t name calling. I certainly didn’t take it that way.

          While I am disappointed that Creigh Deeds has done even less than McAuliffe on this issue — Deeds has no energy plan on his website, unlike McAuliffe and Moran — I am less critical of Deeds because no one from the Deeds campaign and no Deeds supporter is trying to spin the public into believing something that isn’t true.

          The Deeds approach as you’ve described it is somewhere between “Drill, Baby, Drill” and my approach, which is keep a 30 yr moratorium in place. (Bush never should have lifted it.) Polls show that at first blush, there is public support for exploration and drilling.

          My conclusion is that McAuliffe agrees with Deeds but is afraid to say so.

          That’s all well and good, but that doesn’t make it environmentally sound.

          Again, reasonable people can disagree here, but I can’t abide the behavior of the Terry McAuliffe campaign on this issue.

  2. v

    “Your supporters assure me that in fact you are opposed to offshore drilling. Mr. Elleithee pointed to a newspaper article from before you were a candidate where you indicated that you favor exploration offshore for natural gas but not oil.”

    There is no such thing as gas exploration only. That was the point of the Moran PR they sent out earlier today, citing Virginia’s Energy Policy as defined in Virginia Code.

    The McAuliffe campaign supports gas exploration, therefore they support oil as well, and also dirty coal in Surry.

  3. Pingback: Brian Moran: Long Fighting to Protect our Coasts - Raising Moran

  4. Pingback: Political Mixed Bag in Southwestern Virginia: Old Politics, New Politics : Star City Harbinger

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