August 14, 2008

Firing Back on Energy Costs


By Aaron Applegate

The Virginian-Pilot

Virginia Beach

A trio of Republican leaders touted Sen. John McCain's energy plan Wednesday , the latest local effort to gain political traction by talking about high energy prices.

George Allen, a former governor and U.S. senator, U.S. Rep. Thelma Drake and state Sen. Frank Wagner praised the likely Republican presidential nominee's support for offshore drilling, increased nuclear and coal power, and incentives to develop alternative energy sources.

The politicians were joined in a panel discussion by five business owners, all McCain supporters, who described, in bleak terms, the impact of high energy prices on their industries.

Waving an invoice with an extra fuel surcharge fee, Chris Savvides, owner of Black Angus Restaurant in Virginia Beach, said cheese, milk and beef prices have skyrocketed, mainly because of rising gas prices.

"We pay a premium every day to have these things delivered," said Savvides, who hosted the discussion at his restaurant.

Carol Curtis, owner of Noah Enterprises Inc., a Virginia Beach construction company, said energy prices have forced her to consider slicing employee benefits, such as contributions to health-care plans.

The event came two days after a panel discussion in Norfolk led by U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, a Democrat, in which most participants voiced opposition to offshore drilling.

Earlier this month, Glenn Nye, a Democrat challenging Drake in Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, announced his energy proposal, focusing largely on alternative energy but not ruling out increased drilling.

In late July, Drake announced her support for a bipartisan plan to open offshore areas for oil and gas drilling in Virginia.

Wagner said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was inflicting "San Francisco values on the entire nation."

Panel members criticized likely Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama's focus on alternative energy as "pie-in-the-sky" and said they feared "over-regulation" were he elected president.

The Obama campaign, in a conference call an hour before the Virginia Beach event, said McCain's plan would favor oil companies over families, according to a transcript of the call.

Aaron Applegate, (757) 222-5122, [email protected]

- online video

See the panel at Pilot

More news Get the latest stories on the presidential race, vote in our vice-presidential poll, and read about the candidates' backgrounds and top issues at hampton presidential-election. national news

Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner will be a keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention. Front section, Page 1

Originally published by BY AARON APPLEGATE.

(c) 2008 Virginian - Pilot. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.