Clean Energy Clash in Virginia Race

It’s probably the most important electoral contest of 2021, playing out in the showdown for governor of neighboring Virginia. Among a number of critical differences between Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin, none are sharper than their great divide on clean energy.

In particular, former private equity manager Youngkin has declared his opposition to the new Virginia Clean Economy Act. McAuliffe supports the law, and will work to accelerate its phaseout of non-renewable energy sources by 2035. In attacking the law during the candidates’ first general election debate, Youngkin used the mantra of instead supporting “all energy sources,” and particularly pointed to his support of natural gas as an ongoing source of power. McAuliffe fired back by underscoring his support for wind power, and declared, “When I think of clean energy, I think jobs.”

A convincing McAuliffe win would strongly signal the continued popularity of policies promoting clean energy and curtailing catastrophic climate change in pivotal Virginia. In contrast, a Youngkin win would sound a major alarm about possible environmental policy reversals at stake in next year’s midterm elections.

Our Old Dominion counterpart, the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, has endorsed McAuliffe.

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