Coal group says Obama finally mentions coal on campaign website

After criticism from members of Congress over omitting coal from the “all of the above” energy strategy on his re-election campaign website, the Obama campaign the evening of May 10 added “clean coal” to the site, said a pro-coal group, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

Coalition Vice President Evan Tracey said in a May 11 statement: “We’re glad the Obama campaign finally included clean coal in its ‘all of the above’ energy strategy, but the President’s commitment to coal needs to be more than just a talking point. The President’s EPA is using expensive and heavy handed regulations to regulate coal out of existence in America, making low cost and reliable electricity less certain in the future. We hope the President will reconsider these rules that only serve to make energy more expensive and destroy American jobs.”

Obama, from Illinois, a major coal-producing state, had been generally supportive of “clean coal” initiatives in the 2008 presidential campaign, and has promoted clean coal technologies, mainly carbon capture and sequestration, as president. But those technologies are years away from commercial use. The coal and coal-fired power industries have in the meantime said White House policies are driving the coal production industry into the ground and causing the premature shutdown of dozens of coal-fired power plants nationwide.

On May 9, majority Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee drew attention to what they said were “glaring omissions” in President Obama’s “all of the above” energy plan. Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., said: “This administration has been openly in the business of putting coal out of business. And for the president to run around talking about an ‘all of the above’ energy policy, even on his campaign website, and to not even mention coal as an important energy sector is unbelievable to me.” Republicans also slammed Obama for mentioning nothing about hydropower.

The current “clean coal” section on the Obama-Biden campaign website says: “President Obama has set a 10-year goal to develop and deploy cost-effective clean coal technology. The Recovery Act invested substantially in carbon capture and sequestration research, including 22 projects across four different areas of carbon capture-and-storage research and development.” A coalition snapshot of the campaign website from May 3 shows no mention of clean coal.

By the way, the current version of the website still omits hydropower as a specific energy source, only mentioning oil, natural gas, nuclear, solar, wind, biofuels and clean coal.

The same House Republican leaders issued a May 11 statement applauding themselves for the Obama website change.

“Well, at least the President is finally acknowledging our most abundant energy resource, coal,” said Whitfield. “However, I’m skeptical he will actually do anything to draw on this resource. His EPA has shown time and again that they intend to stop the use of coal. Just look at the actions they have taken since President Obama took office. Even Vice President Biden has said that in the Obama Administration there would be ‘No coal plants here in America.’ They are certainly trying to do that. We are already seeing job losses due to plant shutdowns in the industry, and if President Obama doesn’t truly change his tune on coal, we will see many more job losses and increases in electricity prices.”

The president has gradually been erasing coal from his energy vision over the course of his term, said the Republican statement. Once touting the U.S as “Saudi Arabia of coal,” Obama has seldom mentioned coal in any of his recent energy speeches, they said.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.