the (new) american worker

Rockefeller Questions Obama’s Loyalty to Coal
February 5, 2010, 11:44 pm
Filed under: The Hill | Tags: , , , ,

If you’ve been following the clean coal debate, or any bit of Obama’s energy push at all, you know that the president has embraced a number of energies not so high on the “greenie” list: so-called clean coal and nuclear energy.

It’s been written that Obama’s enthusiasm for coal is not solely an effort to promote job creation in new, competitive energy industries, but also a subtle attempt to win over conservatives in the coal states.

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D) expressed skepticism over Obama's new love for the clean coal industry.

Well, in a budget hearing yesterday on Capitol Hill, West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller (D) suggested that it won’t be so easy for the president to win the miner’s heart.

From The New York Times:

“He says it in his speeches, but he doesn’t say it in here,” Rockefeller said, referring to the budget proposal. “He doesn’t say it in the actions of [EPA Administrator] Lisa Jackson. And he doesn’t say it in the minds of my own people. And he’s beginning to not be believable to me. So I want you to put me at rest or put me away.”

At issue was the administration’s decision to eliminate four tax breaks for the coal industry. Rockefeller also noted that the administration continues to shake a stick at mountain-top removal coal mining, a controversial process heavily criticized by environmental groups.

The Times writes that Orzag defended the President, noting that current proposals allot hundreds of millions of dollars for experimental carbon-capture technologies and other components of the clean coal movement.

The skepticism of Rockefeller and other “coal state” governors are an indication of just how difficult a future the president’s energy proposals – nevermind the cap-and-trade component – face on Capitol Hill. Obama seemed to walking the line quite well, if anything, he’s really bended towards the old guard of energy, fossil fuels like coal and nuclear.


NRDC’s Beinecke: “There Is No Clean Coal”
February 4, 2010, 11:51 pm
Filed under: Mad Media | Tags: , , ,

Interesting bit of opinion in the HuffPo yesterday from the president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Frances Beinecke.

First things first, Beinecke writes, “there is no clean coal.” Her organization has long fought against the “filthy practice,” she goes on to say. Yet even she acknowledges what seems unavoidable in Obama’s energy agenda.

“The reality is that coal is relatively cheap and abundant, and it generates on average half of all our electricity. Coal will continue to be a part of our energy portfolio for awhile,” Beinecke writes.

The “clean coal” debate is not new, but I believe it will get significantly louder now that the president has thrown himself on coal’s side. He hasn’t completely lost people like Beinecke however; she commends the president for his efforts to lash job creation and energy initiatives in one comprehensive bill. Jobs – all 2 million of them – may be all that’s necessary to sweeten clean coal for the otherwise skeptical.

Winning Over the “Coal” States
February 3, 2010, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Washington | Tags: , ,

For reasons somewhat incomprehensible to me, “climate change” is a politically divisive term. This sentiment is shared, I assume, by all the people who enjoyed a laugh with President Obama last week when he publicly mocked climate change skeptics during the State of the Union Address.

But, that was last week. This week, it seems our president has decided to adopt a somewhat more modest tone. He has very clearly centered his efforts to create new American jobs around clean energy and infrastructure initiatives, so if he is to get anything done, it seems he’s decided to stop throwing “global warming” around. Better buzzword? Actually, there’s three. Jobs, jobs, jobs.

This piece from MSNBC notes that the president is trying to win over voters in coal and farm states while he travels around America touting his energy initiatives, a two-birds-with-one-stone kind of thing.

From the White House:

“I happen to believe that we should pass a comprehensive energy and climate bill,” Obama told a White House meeting of governors, many from coal-producing states. “It will make clean energy the profitable kind of energy, and the decision by other nations to do this is already giving their businesses a leg up on developing clean energy jobs and technologies.”

Sure, he’s pandering to his audience, but good for him. There is nothing wrong with a little modesty. In my mind, moves like publicly mocking climate skeptics may garner a temporary laugh – look at those “crazies” it says – but something about the way Obama does it just comes off as arrogant. It surely can’t help him with the Palin types. Now if Obama can win over some center-rights, maybe even some independents, and get the ball rolling on new jobs for energy projects, now that’s something I’ll cheer for.