Gov. McAuliffe Splices and Dices on the Green Front

His new carbon control commission has environmental groups abuzz.



“Governor McAuliffe Is Moving Forward on Climate. Are You With Him?"

Thus states an online banner ad by the Virginia League of Conservation Voters running on the homepage of a major Virginia newspaper.

But if you think it shows complete solidarity for Gov. Terry McAuliffe, think again.

McAuliffe is catching it on all sides as he tries to straddle the middle on climate change and energy development.

The governor is under fire from groups such as the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network for backing two controversial natural gas pipelines and offshore oil drilling. But he's using his executive authority to set up a work group to stem carbon dioxide emissions.

Because he is using an executive order, however, prominent Republicans such as House Speaker William Howell are crying foul.

They claim that McAuliffe, a Democrat stuck in constant deadlocks with the General Assembly, has overused executive orders to get past stalemates. He’s deployed them to return voting rights to convicted felons who have served their terms, ban guns in state office buildings and try to expand Medicaid coverage.

What’s more, some conservative legislators want the General Assembly to give the final OK to proposals of how the state will meet guidelines in President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions in coming years.

Perhaps strangely, McAuliffe seems to have split environmental groups.

While younger outfits are critical of him for backing the $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline led by Dominion Resources, more traditional green groups are supporting his carbon stance.

They include the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, Environment Virginia and the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, which took out the digital ads asking that viewers click their support for the governor.

Meanwhile, a coalition of groups including the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition plan a July 23 protest march to the Executive Mansion in Richmond. Note: This version clarifies an earlier one that stated that Appalachian Voices is critical of McAuliffe for his executive order on the Clean Power Plan. The group supports it, but still is critical of the governor for his stances on pipelines and offshore drilling