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Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine has been asked to clarify his stance on the planned Atlantic Coast Pipeline. If it is constructed, the pipeline would carry fracked gas through his home state of Virginia, as well as through Pennsylvania and Ohio and into other states.

According to The Intercept, Virginia landowners have asked Kaine to come out against the pipeline. After reviewing his record, environmentalists have concerns about Kaine. Hillary Clinton’s running mate was one of the earliest opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline, but on other environmental issues he has helped carry water for the fossil fuel industry.

Kaine’s record on energy is mixed. He’s been supportive of offshore drilling in the Atlantic and introduced legislation to speed up liquid natural gas exports. In 2012, he pushed for the construction of one of the nation’s last new coal plants. And he helped pressure the federal government to lower Virginia’s greenhouse gas emissions goals under the Clean Power Plan.

In Virginia, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s biggest investor, Dominion, was the largest single corporate contributor to local politicians between 1997 and 2016, and Kaine has accepted his share of the company’s cash and gifts: more than $300,000 in total since 2001. When asked what he thought of Kaine, senior American Petroleum Institute lobbyist Louis Finkel told Intercept reporter Zaid Jilani, “He’s the best we could have hoped for.” Virginia’s governor and longtime friend of the Clintons, Terry McAuliffe, supports the pipeline.

… In Keystone’s wake, natural gas pipelines are emerging as a gauge of Democrats’ environmental seriousness. In the Appalachian Basin alone, 19 major natural gas pipeline projects, including the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, have been proposed to carry fracked gas from production sites to markets, making them a focal point of the environmental movement.

The pipeline protesters have seen victories. On Earth Day, construction of the Constitution pipeline in New York halted when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo denied a key permit under the Clean Water Act. Only days earlier, pipeline company Kinder Morgan announced that it would cancel its Northeast Energy Direct pipeline because it lacked purchasing commitments from customers.

In related news, Think Progress notes that the Dakota Access pipeline, which stretches almost as long as the Keystone XL oil line, has been approved.

—Posted by Donald Kaufman.

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