Obama and Clean Coal
It is an issue that if it catches on it could be enough to keep Barack Obama from a victory in Virginia. The Obama campaign, while proud of its record on environmental issues, has worked very hard to court voters who have connection to the coal industry.
The work he has done plays directly into his strategy of winning Virginia. Score big in the Northern D-C suburbs, and then take enough of a percentage of the conservative and rural parts of the state to win by a slim margin. Polls at this point, reflect that his strategy is working.
That strategy falls apart if he loses even a small portion of that support in traditionally “red” areas. So far many of these voters who have in the past have never been inclined to vote Democrat feel comfortable voting for Obama (primarily because of the economy). But if one issue can strike a chord to make them no longer comfortable, he could lose that margin of victory he needs.
Enter the clean coal debate. Southwest Virginia is filled with people who are very reliant on the coal industry. Republicans have tried desperately to convince people living there that Obama and his environmentally friendly record are not in line with the needs of the coal industry. You may recall how they seized on some comments made by Senator Joe Biden during a rope line in Ohio.
Obama answered the comments by Biden, by pointing to his campaign platform, which specifically states support for the development of clean coal technology.
But despite Obama’s platform and his defense of clean coal technology, many leaders in the coal industry are fearful that his dedication to coal is not as strong as his dedication to the environment. Many leading environmental advocacy groups consider clean coal to be a myth.
This fear is why today Obama opponents are seizing on a newly released audio recording where Obama tells the San Francisco Chronicle what his plans are when it comes to the coal industry. In the interview Obama talks about his desire to use an “aggressive” cap and trade system when it relates to coal. He also claims in the interview that he is open to companies developing coal plants, but if they do, the cap and trade system will “bankrupt” them.
Here is the transcript of his quote:
“The only thing I’ve said with respect to coal, I haven’t been some coal booster. What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as a (sic) ideological matter as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it.
So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them.”
Not exactly what people who work and rely on coal plants would consider a strong support for their industry.
But this close to election day, will it resonate enough to make a difference? Someone is certainly hoping it will. The story is on the front page of today’s Drudge Report and I personally have received somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 e-mails from people begging us to run the story.