Obama is running a new ad in Kentucky, saying he supports investing $200 million in clean coal technology; the ad says Obama "helped lead the fight for clean coal to protect our environment and save good-paying American jobs". He has also said previously, in Nevada, (below the fold) "If we can figure out a way to produce coal generated power cleanly, then we should be for it, but I am not going to license or encourage coal that’s dirty. The technology is going to have to prove itself, and right now we’re not quite there yet." Too bad he didn't have the nerve to say that in Kentucky.
Clinton is also bullish on coal. "We're sitting on a huge natural resource," she said, before pledging to invest more federal funds in sequestering carbon dioxide from coal power plants.
Obama downplaying coal in Nevada
He might have pointed out (as David Roberts does in Huffpo) that coal mining isn't exactly terrific for Kentucky these days, what with mountaintop mining and mechanization. Roberts suggests that Obama shoul have taken the high road like he did with the gas tax:
"Start by telling the truth: as president, he would stop the expansion of dirty coal. No new coal plants would be built unless they could fully sequester their greenhouse gas emissions. He would offer R&D; money, loan guarantees, and subsidies to assist in the development of cost-effective carbon capture and sequestration, but it's likely to take at least 10-20 years, and when/if it exists, there's no guarantee it would be more than a small portion of our energy balance. In other words: there is going to be no coal boom in an Obama administration."
Roberts continues: "That's the truth politicians refuse to tell the people of WV and KY: the future is not in coal. Clinging to coal is clinging to a sinking ship."
Even the Wall Street Journal is asking "Clean Coal: Black Gold or Fool’s Gold?" and concludes "the sticky point is the same—whether it’s in 2020 or 2030, commercially-viable clean coal plants will take a long time to become a reality. Even then, they will be more expensive—and probably less efficient—than current coal-fired plants, which means even more power stations will be needed to make the same amount of juice. And permanently storing carbon requires a whole different bag of tricks than just capturing it at the plants."