Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) agrees with President Barack Obama that the threat of global climate change is real and that the country needs to begin the process of a comprehensive, diverse energy policy.
He stops short of taking aggressive steps to take coal, an important economic industry in Virginia, out of that mix.
"I have weighed in repeatedly with the administration that coal needs to be in our energy mix," Warner said during an interview on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
Warner said a look at the rising shoreline on the coast of Virginia is enough evidence for him that President needed to take action and he supports the overall goal. However he vowed to make sure that coal is a positive part of that progress.
"I think coal is going to continue to be a part of our energy mix," he said. "I think we got to find ways to use it cleaner, to capture carbon, but I absolutely believe the threat of climate change is real."
Republicans have argued this week that the President's speech announcing dramatic executive steps to reign in climate change amount to a "war on coal." Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Henrico), the House Majority Leader, said from the House floor that "This Administration has consistently been hostile to affordable domestic energy."
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Cheaspeake) suggested that the new policy will lead to job losses across the Commonwealth. "Earlier this week, President Obama announced the escalation of his war on coal," said Forbes. "Which will undoubtedly result in devastating economic consequences across Virginia."
Warner didn't go that far and warned that coal as a long term energy solution, by itself, is not enough. He said a diverse energy policy will not only help the environment, but offer long term economic benefits.
"The biggest challenge to coal right now is not so much the EPA regulations," he said. "But the dramatically lower price of natural gas."
In the short term, the GOP is not only worried about the new policy's impact on coal related jobs, but what could show up in electric bills across Virginia. They accused Warner of helping to get Obama elected and in turn allowing him to pursue this agenda.
"Instead of working together, Warner prefers to raise the cost of electricity to unaffordable levels to appease radical liberal environmentalists," said National Republican Senate Campaign Committee Press Secretary Brook Hougesen.
But Warner believes there is a balance to be struck between protecting the environment and the coal industry. He hopes the president's plan is a good start.
"I think it is important that we have an 'all of the above' policy," he said. "I applaud what the president suggested."
An extended clip on Senator Warner's thoughts on the Obama energy plan can be found below: