In the now very heated congressional race to replace U.S. Senate candidate Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), coal energy has become an issue, There are 4 coal power plants in the district, and the candidates are now battling the future of the plants.
While both claim to be supporters of the “local industry”, the Babeu campaign has set out to tie Tom O’Halleran to Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Clinton who famously said she wants to put coal miners “out of business”.
At a debate last week Babeu went on the attack:
“This affects us because of the electricity, the cost to do business to locate here. We don’t have the capacity to transition to natural gas. We already know the national policies as stated not only through the EPA, but the leading candidate, Hillary Clinton, talking about closing coal mines and unemploying coal miners. I have a problem with that. … I will fight for coal and fight for those jobs.”
He went on to demand of O’Halleran to defend his views on the issue:
“I will not vote to close any one of those power plants. I will make sure that the EPA regulatory environment is one that takes into account the needs of our communities, I am for renewable energy, but not at the cost of jobs that are the best jobs in our district. It would be irresponsible of anybody that was going to be a congressperson in Congressional District 1 to do anything other than that.” O’Halleran said.
While the differences between the candidates on the issue may be small, this may become one of those times where the congressional race becomes about the presidential one.