Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The 'Clean Coal' Flip-Flop: Obama and Biden Both Waffling

At a recent campaign stop in Ohio a young woman approached Joe Biden and asked him, "Wind and solar are flourishing here in Ohio, so why are you supporting clean coal?"

The Senator replied, "we're not supporting clean coal. Guess what? China is building 2 dirty coal plants every week and it's polluting the US.... No coal plants here in America! Build them, if they're gonna build them, over there. Make them clean, because they're killing..."

Obama, allegedly, supports the development of "clean coal", and Biden had little choice but to waffle on the matter and evntually retract this statement:

From PoliGazzete:
Senator McCain knows that Senator Obama and Senator Biden support clean coal technology,” says Biden spokesman David Wade. “Senator Biden’s point is that China is building coal plants with outdated technology every day, and the United States needs to lead by developing clean coal technologies. The Obama-Biden comprehensive energy plan will invest $150 billion over 10 years in clean energy technologies, including incentives to accelerate private sector investment in commercial scale zero-carbon coal facilities. The Obama-Biden Department of Energy is committed to developing 5 ‘first-of-a-kind’ commercial scale coal-fired plants with carbon capture and sequestration here in the United States.”
But the problem is - as I reported back in July - Obama may be on record as saying he supports "clean coal", but he is also on record as saying he supports the development of 'dirty coal' and opposes efforts to regulate greenhouse gasses.

From AZ central - July 17 - 2008:,
In May 1998, at the urging of the state's coal industry, the Illinois Legislature passed a bill condemning the Kyoto global warming treaty and forbidding state efforts to regulate greenhouse gases.

Barack Obama voted "aye."

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee now calls climate change "one of the greatest moral challenges of our generation," and proposes cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. But as a state senator, from 1997 to 2004, he usually supported bills sought by coal interests, according to legislative records and interviews....

Obama, who touts his independence from special interests, made a point of embracing the coal industry as part of his quest for statewide office. When he ran for U.S. Senate in 2004, he was flanked by mine workers to proclaim that "there's always going to be a role for coal" in Illinois....

Employees of coal companies and electric utilities have contributed $539,597 to Obama's U.S. Senate and presidential campaign, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics...

"He's definitely trying to straddle two politically irreconcilable objectives: Taking decisive action against global warming while keeping a healthy coal industry," said Frank O'Donnell, president of the non-partisan Clean Air Watch."...

Obama's other votes on coal in the state Senate included:

In 1997, he voted to divert sales taxes to a fund for grants to help reopening closed coal mines and "incentives to attract new businesses that use coal.

"In 2001, he voted for legislation that offered of $3.5 billion in loan guarantees to build coal-fired power plants with no ability to control carbon emissions.... [of course, Obama now says he wants to build "5 ‘first-of-a-kind’... coal-fired plants with carbon capture", but those weren't the kind of coal-fired plants he wanted to build in 2001.]

In 2003, he voted to allow $300 million in taxpayer-backed bonds to build or expand coal-fired power plants.

Obama also drew criticism for sponsoring a bill in January 2007 to devote $8 billion in subsidies to a technology to convert coal to liquid fuel. The Sierra Club says liquid coal "releases almost double the global warming emissions per gallon as regular gasoline."

As the presidential campaign was well under way in June 2007, the Obama campaign issued a clarification: He would not support liquid coal processes unless they emit a fifth less carbon than conventional fuels.

"When you're running for president and you've got environmentalists biting your head off every day, that's to be expected," said Phil Gonet, head of the Illinois Coal Association. "We're still optimistic that he may be helpful at some point in the future."
"Obama and Biden, 'Waffling' you can believe in!"