Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe now supports exploring for oil off the coast of Virginia, reversing his position on an issue that both sides of the debate consider to be crucial to the commonwealth’s long-term energy future.
When McAuliffe ran for governor in 2009 he said he would back “exploratory drilling for natural gas only“ and did “not support drilling for oil off our coast,” a fact that Republicans cite often in arguing that the Democrat is on the wrong side of the issue. But now that he’s running for governor again, facing Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) in November, McAuliffe has a different stance.
“Terry has learned more about offshore drilling from experts in Virginia,” said McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin. “He thinks that because of technological progress we can now do it in a responsible fashion.”
McAuliffe’s change of heart means he supports legislation introduced Wednesday by Virginia Sens. Mark Warner (D) and Timothy M. Kaine (D) that would allow oil and gas exploration off the coast of Virginia, with the state keeping a portion of any revenue generated. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) has introduced a slightly different version of the bill in the House.