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Allen talks up energy policy in swing through Clarksville

South Boston News
George Allen greets supporters during a campaign stop in Clarksville on Monday afternoon / September 26, 2012
Former Virginia governor and current Republican U. S. Senate candidate George Allen met with supporters and local business leaders at a Monday campaign stop in Clarksville. Before opening the floor to questions, Allen rallied those present by sharing his views on energy policy and job opportunities.

President Obama’s energy policy has become a hot topic in this Senate race.

Allen is looking to recapture the seat he lost to Democrat Jim Webb in 2006. His opponent is Tim Kaine, a former Virginia governor and former mayor of Richmond.

Allen said, “Southwest Virginia lives or dies on this election,” referencing the recent announcement of the closure of three coal mines operated by Alpha Natural Resources.

He blamed the president and the Environmental Protection Agency for the growing number of mine closures and layoffs, and taking away one of the “advantages” Southside Virginia holds when it comes to attracting new businesses: an abundance of natural energy resources.

Allen told listeners that the EPA has been using regulations to try to accomplish what the Obama administration was unable to enact through Congress. One of the first bills he would introduce allows Virginia to develop its energy resources – mining coal and drilling for oil and natural gas off the coast.

The royalties from these operations would be earmarked for roads and transportation, Allen said.

He distinguished himself from Kaine by telling the audience he, along with most Alaskans, supports drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“Look at Alaska. They have revenue based on oil exploration. The government pays people living in Alaska each year based on revenues from oil production. If every state was allowed to tap into its oil, coal and natural gas reserves, the United States would see $1 trillion in annual revenues without raising taxes.”

He also supports the Keystone Pipeline Project – a 1,179-mile pipeline system to transport synthetic crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta, Canada to multiple destinations in the United States, including a distribution hub in Oklahoma.

The project has been criticized by some environmentalists and some members of Congress. In November 2011, President Obama postponed the final decision on whether to allow permitting for much of project until 2013.

“We have pipeline everywhere, without affect,” Allen said.

Allen did not wade into the fray regarding whether to allow uranium mining in Pittsylvania. In the past, when asked whether he or the federal government should intercede in the debate over allowing uranium mining in Pittsylvania County, Allen said, “It’s the state’s decision, and it’s the people of Virginia who should choose, not the federal government or any federally elected official. The burden of proof rests with the proponents to prove that this mining is in the best interest of the state.”

He also claimed, in the past, that coal and natural gas were more abundant in this country, cheaper to retrieve, and cheaper to convert into energy.

Allen agreed that people should be concerned with Congress’s ongoing refusal to work together. He promised, if elected, to try to find common ground with those from a different party. He also suggested that one area of common ground could include revising the tax code, making it simple and fair.

Before leaving for a campaign stop in Halifax County, Allen said, “You need to vote for a common-sense conservative. You also need to listen to the people with whom you go to church. They’ll give you the best advice.”

The race between Allen and Kaine is one of the nation’s most closely watched. A recent Rasmussen poll shows Kaine slightly ahead of Allen, with likely Virginia voters favoring Kaine by 47 percent to Allen’s 45 percent.

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