Obama Refines His Position on Coal

Tip O'Neill said "all politics is local" and perhaps it is if you are a senator, but it sure gets complicated when you are running for president. The state of Illinois sits on 100 billion tons of coal, and its senator is Barack Obama; it really should be no surprise that in 2005 he attached a provision to the energy bill for 85 million dollars to test using Illinois coal for transportation, or that he co-sponsored legislation earlier this year for billions of dollars in subsidies for coal-to-liquid technology.

In January Obama said "The people I meet in town-hall meetings back home would rather fill their cars with fuel made from coal reserves in southern Illinois than with fuel made from crude reserves in Saudi Arabia.According to the Washington Post, environmentalists were not happy and let him know. "When our friends do things that we think are not smart, we tend to call them and talk to them about it," Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope said. "We thought this was a mistake. We let them know that we thought it was a mistake and why."

"He was trying to throw a bone to the southern Illinois coal interests, and was surprised when people started saying "what the heck are you doing? said Frank ODonnell, president of Clean Air Watch. "that is a rookie mistake for a presidential candidate, to think you can get in the middle of a controversial issue and no one will notice."

Since introducing the bill in January Obama has been "refining" his position, and now will support subsidies for CTL only if the fuel can be created with 20% lower CO2 than petroleum based fuels, a goal that is not currently technically feasible. When push came to shove he voted against his own co-sponsored bill.

President of American Coal Company Robert Murray says "on the one hand he says he 's for CTL, but then he votes against it. I am going to assume that he is not a friend of coal' ::Washington Post

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