Coal official calls Obama comments
Sunday, November 02, 2008
By Chris Dickerson (firstname.lastname@example.org
CHARLESTON - At least one state coal industry leader said he was
shocked by comments Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama made earlier
this year concerning his plan to aggressively charge polluters for carbon and
greenhouse gas emissions.
"What I've said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that
is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else's out there," Obama
said in a Jan. 17 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle that was made
public today first on the Web site newsbusters.org
, which calls itself "the
leader in documenting, exposing and neutralizing liberal media bias." The story
later was linked on The Drudge Report.
An audio excerpt from the interview can be found at YouTube. (see above link)
"I was the first to call for a 100 percent auction on the cap and trade
system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would
be charged to the polluter," Obama continued. "That will create a market in
which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever
power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of
that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every
"So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant,
they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be
charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being
Calls and e-mails to West Virginia Obama campaign
officials seeking comment for this story were not returned as of Sunday
According to the West Virginia Office of Miners'
Health, Safety and Training, the coal industry provides about 40,000 direct jobs
in the state, including those for miners, mine contractors, coal preparation
plant employees and mine supply company workers.
West Virginia is the second largest coal-producing
state in the country behind Wyoming and accounts for about 15 percent of all
coal production in the United States. The Mountain State leads the nation in
underground coal production and leads the nation in coal exports with over 50
million tons shipped to 23 countries. West Virginia accounts for about half of
U.S. coal exports.
In addition, the coal industry pays about $70 million
in property taxes in the state annually, and the Coal Severance Tax adds about
$214 million into West Virginia's economy. The coal industry payroll in the
state is nearly $2 billion per year, and coal is responsible for more than $3.5
billion annually in the gross state product.
"The only thing I've said with respect to coal, I haven't been some coal
booster," Obama said in the San Francisco Chronicle interview. "What I have said
is that for us to take coal off the table as an ideological matter as opposed to
saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue
The senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association called
Obama's comments "unbelievable."
"His comments are unfortunate," Chris Hamilton said Sunday, "and really
reflect a very uninformed voice and perspective to coal specifically and energy
Hamilton noted other times Obama and vice presidential candidate Joe Biden
have made seemingly anti-coal statements.
"In Ohio recently, when Joe Biden said 'not here' about building coal-fired
power plants -- this is exactly what will happen," Hamilton said. "Financing
won't be directed here. It will all go aboard for plants elsewhere in the world.
The United Sates is importing more coal today from Indonesia, South Africa and
Colombia than we ever have.
"If we're going to create a situation where coal-fired power plants are at
that much of a disadvantage, there will be new ones built. But as Biden said,
just not here."
Republican presidential candidate John McCain's state director said Obama's
statements are troubling, especially for West Virginians.
"I think this clearly shows the attitude the Obama-Biden ticket has toward
coal," Ben Beakes said Sunday. "Rhetoric is cheap, but behind closed doors what
they tell their supporters - that's what we have to take as gospel.
"They're definitely not friends of coal."
Beakes noted other examples of Obama and Biden making seemingly anti-coal
statements, such as in February when Obama said he'd like to tax "dirty energy"
such as coal and natural gas.
"And their cohorts in Congress make similar statements," Beakes said.
"(Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said this summer that 'coal
makes us sick.'
"This is an attitude and view that, to me, shows their hatred of coal. And
therefore, their view would cost West Virginians thousands upon thousands of
Beakes touted McCain's view toward coal.
"John McCain has embraced coal," Beakes said. "He doesn't agree with
everything in the coal industry, but his view of coal is positive. He will make
it part of his energy policy. He's met with leaders in the coal industry and let
them know that. He's sought advice from coal industry leaders.
"McCain understands that coal supports about 49 percent of our electricity
in this country. He'll continue to make coal important. He wants to reduce our
foreign dependency on oil."
Hamilton also said the Obama campaign needs to find varied sources for coal
and energy advice.
"If they're victorious Tuesday, they'd better go to someone other than Al
Gore on energy and environmental matters," he said. "They've tipped the balance
way -- unnecessarily so -- toward protecting the environment."
Al Gore has been calling
for a "wrenching transformation" - do you think he cares who gets hurt - or
freezes to death? No, he is financial partners with the traders who will scalp
us for $billions - Ken