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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Re: Rick Boucher Endorses Obama

posted by on January 23 at 11:57 AM

Funny, you’d think if Obama was under “Big Coal“‘s thumb that he’d at least make the top 20 recipients of coal industry donations for the 2007-8 cycle. Clinton is number 20 with $9,200; Obama isn’t ranked there, but has received $4,795 from the coal industry.

Here’s what Clinton had to say about the virtues of clean coal in 2006:

We have to deal with coal, because we have huge resources of coal. Coal is to us what oil is to Saudi Arabia. And part of our domestic strategy must involve coal.

But unless we learn to burn it cleanly, the price of independence from imported oil by using coal will be accelerated global warming. Even if the United States never burned another lump of coal, China is bringing on-line a 1,000 megawatt coal-fired power plant every 10 days. So if we’re going to reassert our leadership on climate change — which I think we should — we’ve got to deal with coal.

And the first step is to take a mandatory cap-and-trade system, like that developed in the McCain-Lieberman legislation that I support, but obviously going out and trying to reengage the rest of the world in this issue.

But unless we get to clean coal, it’s going to be very hard to achieve.

Geologic sequestration, storing carbon deep within the earth after you extract the carbon from the burning coal, holds the key to making coal use compatible with the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Scientists believe we will be able to store nearly all of the carbon dioxide we currently emit for hundreds of years. But we need more real-world data, and that can only come from large-scale testing.

I propose we do two things to scale up the potential of clean coal.

First, undertake five large-scale tests of geologic sequestration in a variety of settings to really investigate the viability of this technology.

Second, provide tax credits for carbon sequestration to encourage domestic oil production. Oil companies already inject carbon dioxide into mature fields like the ones we have here in the United States to recover oil. The Department of Energy estimates that with oil priced at $40 or higher per barrel, it is economical, with ample CO2 supply, to use CO2 to recover 47 billion barrels of oil from existing U.S. fields.

Think of what we could recover at today’s prices, as we were cleaning the air at the same time.

Her Strategic Energy Fund makes a number of promises, but first on the list is clean coal:

Deliver Clean Coal Technology. $3.5 billion in tax incentives and grants to build 5 clean coal plants that can capture and store carbon dioxide and reduce global warming.

Look, I don’t think Obama is perfect on coal. He’s from a coal-producing state, and his voting record reflects that constituency. But let’s not pretend Clinton is any better on this issue.

Remember when Clinton went to bat for a major polluter?

RSS icon Comments


This is more sexist than that Economist cover. I'm not sure how, but I'll cherry-pick facts to support my argument after a quick search of the NYTimes archives. Talk to you then!

Posted by Ziggity | January 23, 2008 12:06 PM

"No Worse Than Clinton" would make a snappy bumper sticker.

Posted by tomasyalba | January 23, 2008 12:07 PM

fuckin THANK YOU. my brain, my poor poor brain, could not withstand the strain of total bullshit.

Posted by shannon | January 23, 2008 12:09 PM

I enjoy the partisan bickering between the candidates themselves but it's becoming tedious on the slog.

Posted by The General | January 23, 2008 12:09 PM

But Annie, this is a policy issue and is specific, something Obama supporters are supposedly unable to produce. I am confused, according to ECB only HRC and her Clintonistas have a grasp of issues. Obama supporters are merely for hope and coal.

Posted by Poll Watcher | January 23, 2008 12:14 PM

Well, now the ball is back in Erica's court. Write something of substance? Or more slime?

Posted by elenchos | January 23, 2008 12:15 PM

@4: That's funny, because I'm really enjoying having two good local writers attacking and defending their chosen candidates on the issues of the day. It's something that's not really being done very publicly elsewhere, and it's refreshing and educational, provided the level of discourse is kept high.

I won't weigh in on clean coal, other than to say that Clinton is right when she says that coal is what we do and we gotta deal with it intelligently and pragmatically.

As for cap and trade emissions schemes, check out The Economist's analysis of recent changes to the EU's energy policy:

Which explains a bit about why auctioning the credits is the better route, shy of a straight up carbon tax.

It features this tasty snippet:
"Yet a study of British industry published this week by Britain's Carbon Trust undermines the idea that a carbon price of €20 ($30) a tonne—high enough to make a range of clean-energy technologies worthwhile—would be a huge burden. It suggests that industries making up less than 1% of Britain's GDP (and 50% of its manufacturing emissions) would be “significantly” affected. Aluminium, cement and some steel production are the most vulnerable."

carbon tax! carbon tax! carbon tax! You want to manage something efficiently, set a transparent price on it!

Posted by NaFun | January 23, 2008 12:17 PM

I read this and tried to read the Slog comments after seeing the bit Dan posted on Gore.

You know, no matter who wins in November (from either party) we really are fucked in a way we can not even begin to fanthom.

I say we take the West Coast, succede from the Union and elect Gore to be the President. Let the other 47 states (well we will take HI with us) and let them just fuck themselves over.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | January 23, 2008 12:28 PM

"Clinton: She's No Worse Than Obama"

Oh, yeah, that would so win votes as a bumper sticker.

Why do you MSM types keep pushing Clinton and Guiliani so much?

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 23, 2008 12:28 PM

This gets, yet again, to the difference between candidates' policy platform statements and what they've DONE IN OFFICE: The coal-to-liquid bill was OBAMA's bill. He's made coal one of his top priorities in office--see, for example, this Washington Post story: is completely different than saying in a policy statement that you'll support clean coal. They both may support coal in their statements, but Obama has done so with his ACTIONS. (And seriously, do you really think $9,000 is going to buy a presidential candidate in a race that cost multiple millions of dollars? Please.)

Posted by ECB | January 23, 2008 12:30 PM

@7 - I guess I just prefer the way Josh and Eli handle their posts. They both seem more even-handed than ECB and Annie and not as personally invested in proving someone else wrong.

Posted by The General | January 23, 2008 12:30 PM

Try this for action:

Last week, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton showed that despite efforts to build support with progressives suspicious of their close ties to corporate America, when it comes to real decisions and real votes, big business will often come first. This was reaffirmed when the two senators voted for an amendment to the energy bill offered by Montana Democrat Jon Tester that would have provided $200 million in grants and $10 billion in taxpayer loans for projects to turn regular old solid, black coal into new, shiny liquid coal to power cars and trucks. The coal companies love the idea, because replacing even 10 percent of gasoline with liquid coal would spur a 43 percent increase in coal mining, according to environmental groups. And proponents have tried to put coal liquefaction in the politically appealing framework of "energy independence" -- helping reduce our dependence on foreign oil.


Clinton's reasons for supporting liquid coal are harder to divine. Like Obama, she's compiled a generally pro-environment record, but also like him, she's surrendered to polluter lobbyists on some key issues -- for example, supporting the logging company International Paper in burning highly toxic tires at a major facility in upstate New York. But there are no major coal mining interests in New York (outside of the New York-based hedge funds who own a large share of the power and mining industry). Nevertheless, she's consistently supported subsidies for coal, if not with the gusto that Obama has brought to the cause. She usually explains it by touting what she says is coal liquefaction's ability to reduce America's reliance on foreign oil (economists doubt this proposition; liquid coal is so expensive to produce that it's likely to only displace domestic sources of oil, which have significantly higher production costs than Saudi, Venezuelan or African oil). Still, she seems to feel divided on the issue; when the Senate voted on the Tester amendment, she stood on the Senate floor and waited until almost all the other senators had cast their votes before announcing her support.

They both suck on this issue, but only Obama has a concrete reason for sucking. What's Clinton's?

Posted by annie | January 23, 2008 12:35 PM

"they both suck."

annie, thank you for being intellectually honest and showing both candidates' records on this issue. that shouldn't be too much to ask.

Posted by brandon | January 23, 2008 12:44 PM

ECB @10 re what they've done in office...OK so why didn't you address the generally horrible environmental track record of the Clintons that was brought up in response to your post? It seems that you're the one that is relying on policy statements rather than actual action here.

Posted by gnossos | January 23, 2008 1:01 PM

@10 ECB - so you'd rather have the money go to Saudis so they can kill Americans with it?


Posted by Will in Seattle | January 23, 2008 1:08 PM

@10 - and this is the lack of a high level of discourse that I was concerned about.
talks about Obama's coal motivations, was written two days before the article that Annie referenced.

I feel it shows Obama trying to find a way to do both, use coal and use it wisely, and he later hedged his bets on CTL.

Posted by NaFun | January 23, 2008 1:11 PM
(And seriously, do you really think $9,000 is going to buy a presidential candidate in a race that cost multiple millions of dollars? Please.)

What, are you one of Jack Abramoff's lawyers now?

Wow. Each post from you is more of a stretch than the last. Annie obviously favors Obama, but still manages to show more honesty than you do.

Posted by unbelievable | January 23, 2008 1:42 PM

The "honest" Obama supporter supports Obama now, by telling us Clinton took $9,200 from the coal industry while Obama just took "$4,795 from the coal industry"?

That's the response to ECB's point about Boucher supporting OBama?

What's the new "noest" OBama slogan now --
"Obama and Clinton: We All Know What they Both Are, But Obama Is a Cheaper One"?

Posted by unPC | January 23, 2008 2:05 PM

@18: Neither candidate has taken much money from the coal industry--that was what I intended to demonstrate by citing both numbers. Both candidates support "clean coal," which is bullshit. One sponsored a stupid coal-to-liquid bill; one voted for it. One candidate is from a coal-producing state; one isn't.

Draw your own conclusions, but I think it's pretty extreme to claim one would be dramatically different from the other in office, endorsement from one Virginia congressman or no.

Posted by annie | January 23, 2008 2:36 PM

I'm an Obama supporter, but I liked Hillary's comments about carbon sequestration. This is something we should try out. I have a feeling that it's not going to work very well, but let's let the scientists and engineers give it a try first, hmm? The research could dramatically improve the way we deal with our coal byproducts, and possibly reduce the amount of money we send to terrorism-sponsoring Saudi Arabia.

Posted by Greg | January 23, 2008 2:44 PM

the key is "citing both numbers." not just one side of the issue, both sides! that way, the reader can draw his/her own conclusions, instead of the author making the conclusions for them based on half the evidence available.

this is the fundamental difference between having journalistic integrity and being a propagandist.

Posted by brandon | January 23, 2008 2:55 PM

I love how Bill's crappy environmental record reflects poorly on Hillary's, especially when she's not allowed to use her First Ladyship as an example of her political experience.

Posted by keshmeshi | January 23, 2008 3:04 PM

@22: We can say she's not allowed all we want, but she persists in using her "35 years of experience" line. So she should take responsibility for environmental stewardship on her husband's watch--it's only fair.

Posted by annie | January 23, 2008 3:32 PM

@22 I assume you're talking about @14's comment about "the generally horrible environmental track record of the Clintons" is only relevant if the reader is choosing Hillary in hopes of some sort of repeat of Bill's presidency, which as Josh posted a while ago, is one of the key reasons many people are voting for her.

Posted by NaFun | January 23, 2008 3:47 PM

"But there are no major coal mining interests in New York" tells you all you need to know. That, and "supporting the logging company International Paper in burning highly toxic tires at a major facility in upstate New York".

Neither one of them get the cookie. They work for industry in their state; that's what senators are FOR.

Posted by Fnarf | January 23, 2008 3:55 PM

ECB has a way of driving me away from her chosen candidates. All the crap reasons she gave for Stephanie Pure led me to vote for someone else (albeit he lost too).

Posted by lol | January 23, 2008 9:24 PM

ECB said Obama was not a friend of the environment because he received an endorsement from a clean coal lobbyist. Now, confronted with the fact that Clinton got more money from that same lobbyist she says it doesn't matter.

Its becoming more and more obvious that one of two things are driving ECB.

1. She won't vote for a black man.
2. She wants to vote for a woman.

Posted by mikeblanco | January 24, 2008 4:47 AM

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