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In a recent NPR Democratic debate, candidates we’re asked to identify the “toughest issue” they faced. Senator Obama recently was quoted saying, “The issue of climate change.” Excellent answer. Now let’s see how his actions face up to his words.
According to Grist.com Senator Obama supports a cap-and-trade system, improved auto fuel efficiency, increased production of biofuels and nuclear energy as part of the general mix.
But what about the Senator’s thoughts on coal? Most environmentalists will agree that continuing to depend on coal as a primary energy source will inevitably lead to ecologically disastrous consequences. The dirties fossil fuel, coal remains king in the US and China, fueling the majority of energy demand. Obama supports “clean-coal”, meaning coal whose emissions would be scrubbed then pumped underground. In addition, he support coal-to-liquid fuels, which currently are no better, and can be even worse, then current coal alternatives. The senator supports the Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Promotion Act, which would all but guarantee increased emissions. Of course, Obama’s home state Illinois is rich in coal reserves, which politically Obama is not ready to give up.
Until Obama shifts the discussion away from future technologies and unproven methods, such as “clean coal,” he can’t be considered a good environmental candidate. Current renewable technologies are capable of ramping up the level of clean energy in this country. With the disappearance of subsidies for coal and oil, alternative energy sources can become economically viable. This is the direction a candidate needs to be thinking, not directly back into the pockets of big coal.
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