Tim Kaine’s climate record – like Hillary Clinton’s – is a mixed bag.
On the one hand, the Virginia Senator-cum-Vice-Presidential-candidate opposed the Keystone Pipeline and created the first climate change commission in the state of Virginia. On the other hand, while he was Governor from 2006 to 2010, he advocated for the development of the Wise County coal-fired power plant, has a history of supporting other fossil fuel interests, and backs the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) (which the Sierra Club strongly opposes and Clinton has flip-flopped on).
“Kaine talks passionately about the urgent threat of global warming, but his only solution is to embrace the fossil-fuel industry. Whether it’s coal, fracking, or oil drilling, Kaine has been there time and again with fulsome praise. And then he warns his constituents about sea level rise,” posted Climate Hawks Vote on their July 23rd Facebook feed.
“Kaine needs to stop advocating for clean coal, fracked gas, and offshore oil, and start advocating for clean solar and offshore wind, if he wants the United States to be the clean energy superpower of the world,” argued RL Miller, Climate Hawks Vote’s cofounder, in the same post.
For those who’d like to see an aggressive climate policy agenda in the upcoming presidential term, Kaine’s support for and from the fossil fuel industry is disconcerting.
“We’re encouraged by the reasonable approach he’s taken on oil and natural gas, that he hasn’t been swayed by politics and ideology,” enthused Miles Morin, Executive Director of Virginia Petroleum Council.
In his defense, Kaine has been up against some strong anti-climate action forces.
“It’s really important for the national stage to realize even to this day in Virginia in the General Assembly, you can’t use the words ‘climate change,’” said attorney Trip Pollard of the Southern Environmental Law Center.
In his own words, Kaine has said, “What we really need is a comprehensive strategy that reduces CO2 emissions…. Such a strategy…does mean everything: wind, solar, geothermal, advanced biofuels. I also think it means natural gas as a bridge fuel to reduce our carbon footprint. Nuclear if it we can reduce costs and resolve disposal issues and yes coal so long as we work to make it burn cleaner. We have to do everything cleaner tomorrow than we’re doing it today.”
Kaine and Clinton, if elected, will likely continue the Obama Administration’s climate and environmental policy initiatives; whereas the Republican opposition – led by eco-villains Donald Trump and Mike Pence – has vowed to destroy climate progress by canning U.S. obligations to the Paris Climate Agreement, dismantling the EPA, trashing clean air regulations and more.
Given the limited choices Americans have on who will lead the United States into the 2020s, Kaine and Clinton appear to be the more progressive stewards of the climate and environment than the Republican alternatives.