The following is an excerpt from ALEX KOTCH, JAY CASSANO AND JOSH KEEFE | November 6, 2017 | ibtimes.com |
Republican Ed Gillespie will have many reasons to be grateful to the Koch brothers if he wins the Virginia governor’s race Tuesday — almost three million reasons, in fact. Charles and David Koch, the billionaire libertarians who run the giant materials and chemicals conglomerate Koch Industries, lead a powerful network of conservative political donors and have come to Gillespie’s aid in the race. How do you say thank you for that kind of help? Should he emerge victorious, Gillespie is poised to enact policies that benefit the Kochs and their business.
The Kochs, whose conglomerate operates oil refineries and gas pipelines, are spending big to support their one-time political consultant, Gillespie, while also ensuring that his Democratic opponent Ralph Northam does not take office. Northam has made protecting the environment a touchstone of his campaign, with strong stances on curbing carbon emissions and supporting development of Virginia’s renewable energy sector. He received $2.5 million from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters. Gillespie’s campaign website has no sections on the environment, but his “all-of-the-above” energy plan begins with a commitment to construct two natural gas pipelines, and continues with promises to repeal carbon regulations, reinstate a coal tax credit and support offshore oil and gas drilling.
Gillespie’s campaign released a seven-page plan for addressing rising sea levels and increased flooding on Virginia’s coast. But the plan didn’t contain the term “climate change” and didn’t address the reason why sea levels are rising. By addressing the dangers posed by climate change without acknowledging its existence, Gillespie is walking a fine line: demonstrating concern for state voters in flood-prone areas, while not crossing fossil-fuel backers like the Koch brothers, whose Koch Industries has given $20,000 directly to his campaign and whose Americans for Prosperity is supporting him with $2.6 million worth of ads.
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