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New Cuccinelli ad seizes on McAuliffe’s support for EPA rules restricting coal plants

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II is looking to capi­tal­ize on businessman Terry McAuliffe’s support for controversial new federal pollution rules, making McAuliffe’s stance the focus of his latest ad in the Virginia governor’s race.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued rules last month limiting the amount of carbon that new coal- and gas-fired plants can emit, likely making it difficult for any new coal plants to be built in Virginia. McAuliffe (D) initially avoided taking a position on the rules but finally did last week.

“I do, you bet,” McAuliffe said when asked whether he supports the rules “as they are written right now.”

That quote is the centerpiece of Cuccinelli’s (R) new ad.

“Barack Obama’s war on coal is intensifying, threatening new government regulations that would outlaw coal plants,” the ad’s narrator says. “And as governor, Terry McAuliffe would support him.”

Next comes video of McAuliffe’s quote from last week, and the narrator says: “McAuliffe would side with Obama and kill Virginia coal, Virginia jobs.”

The ad then confuses the chronology, with a clip of McAuliffe saying: “As governor, I never want another coal plant built.”

McAuliffe actually made that comment during a debate in his 2009 campaign for governor. He has not repeated that assertion in his current contest, and he said last week that if a request to build a new plant comes in when he is governor, “we’ll sit down at that time” to look at it.

McAuliffe’s campaign responded to the ad by ignoring the EPA rules and invoking a separate issue — a legal fight over gas royalties in Southwest Virginia that has embroiled the attorney general’s office in controversy.

“Ken Cuccinelli continues his desperate attempts to distract voters from the inspector general investigation into the help his office gave to out-of-state energy companies in their fight against landowners,” said McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin.

One of those energy companies, Consol Energy, has given more than $100,000 to Cuccinelli’s campaign, and Schwerin said “Virginians know Ken Cuccinelli is only putting his own interests first.”

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