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W.Va. Democratic Senate Candidate Accepts Anti-Coal Money | Washington Free Beacon

Publicly opposes EPA proposed regulation on coal fired power plants


West Virginian Natalie Tennant is the latest Democratic Senate candidate to publicly oppose a proposed regulation on coal-fired power plants while raising money from liberal groups that support the measure, according to reports and campaign finance records.

Tennant, currently West Virginia’s secretary of state, will attend three fundraisers in June with groups backing the regulation, which critics say will result in hundreds of thousands of fewer U.S. jobs and billions in higher annual electricity costs for consumers. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule is expected to have an especially harsh impact on coal-heavy states such as West Virginia with contentious Senate races this fall.

“I will stand up to President Obama, [EPA Administrator] Gina McCarthy, and anyone else who tries to undermine our coal jobs,” Tennant said in a statement after the carbon emissions reductions were announced earlier this month.

However, she is taking a break from her statewide “Energy Tour” to jet out to a Thursday night fundraiser in California with Progressive Women Silicon Valley. The group supports Organizing for Action (OFA), the former campaign arm for Obama that is aggressively pushing the EPA rule.

“After Michelle Obama’s endorsement and consistent backing from other liberals, it should not surprise anyone that Natalie Tennant is skipping work, again, to fundraise with anti-coal activists in Silicon Valley,” said Conrad Lucas, chairman of the West Virginia GOP, in a statement.

The California fundraiser will follow two other recent events benefiting Tennant that were held by groups decried by critics as anti-coal.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D., Ohio) campaign committee hosted a fundraiser on Sunday with Tennant and other Democratic Senate candidates. Brown voted against a failed amendment in 2011 that would have barred the EPA from issuing any carbon emissions regulations and has supported Tennant with $2,500 through his America Works PAC, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Tennant also appeared at a fundraiser last Thursday with Jonathon Jones, a lobbyist who represents the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) among other clients. The EDF lauded the proposed EPA regulation as a “huge win for our climate.”

Additionally, Susie Tompkins Buell—a major Democratic donor linked to the liberal dark money group Democracy Alliancehosted a March fundraiser in San Francisco for the Women on the Road to the Senate committee that benefited Tennant and other Democratic candidates. The fundraiser featuring Buell, a supporter of OFA and the EPA regulation, raised $19,000 for Tennant’s campaign, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records.

Tennant spokeswoman Jennifer Donohue denied that Tennant’s fundraising conflicts with her public pro-coal stance and said she supports legislation currently in Congress that would block the EPA rule.

“Natalie Tennant supports coal—period,” she said in an email. “Natalie will stand up to President Obama, the EPA, [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid [D., Nev.], and anyone else who tries to undermine West Virginia coal jobs.”

The apparent disconnect between Tennant’s public opposition to the carbon rule and her fundraising with environmentalist groups is also a problem for Democrats such as Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, who has said she will “fiercely oppose the president’s attack on Kentucky’s coal industry.”

Both Sen. Brown’s PAC and the Searchlight Leadership Fund PAC affiliated with Sen. Reid have contributed thousands to Tennant, Grimes, and other Democratic Senate candidates in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, and Montana—all states where coal provides the majority of electricity. Reid previously said that “coal makes us sick” in a 2008 interview and stated more recently that “coal has been a problem.”

A study commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that the proposed EPA rule would cost the economy $51 billion annually on average and lead to an average of 224,000 fewer U.S. jobs per year through 2030. U.S. consumers would also pay an average of $17 billion more per year for electricity, according to the study. The rule will be finalized a year from now after a public comment period.

About 47 percent of likely voters in eight Senate battleground coal states say they oppose the EPA regulation, while about 37 percent support it and 15.6 percent say they do not have an opinion on it, according to a new poll commissioned by the National Mining Association.

The GOP needs a net gain of six Senate seats in the fall to obtain a majority in the chamber.

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