Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Coal Pander

The Washington Post election blog The Trail is asking if Barack made a good decision in pandering on coal in an attempt to improve his lot in Kentucky:
Over the past two weeks, Obama's campaign has run an ad in Kentucky depicting Obama as a strong friend of the coal industry, recounting his efforts on behalf of coal miners in southern Illinois and touting his success in securing $200 million in the federal budget last year for "clean coal" technologies.
A couple of years ago Barack reached across the aisle to push a huge subsidy measure to develop liquefied coal for transportation use:
...environmentalists are dead set against it, saying it would produce even more climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions than using petroleum in cars. Liquefied coal's proponents say the emissions could be reduced by capturing and storing carbon dioxide, but that technology is years away from being realized and would add greatly to the cost of the fuel.
So the man from Hope caved:

Under fire from environmentalists, Obama a year ago backed away from his alliance with Bunning, voting against a large package of subsidies for the technology and for a more limited package that was opposed by the coal industry; in the end, neither passed.

A clever move that left his old friends mad at him, and his old friends confused:
The episode left many in the coal industry upset with Obama, and, while environmentalists were pleased with his change of heart, they were puzzled over his flirtation with an idea they scorn.
Even though he betrayed the coal industry, he used his brief friendship in the ad:
Obama "helped lead the fight for clean coal to protect our environment and save good-paying American jobs," the ad's narrator said, in language similar to a mailing that the campaign sent out in the state.
This new kind of politics is so much cooler than the old, smarmy kind, isn't it?
"He's always tried to walk a line by saying, 'I want a cleaner environment but I sure don't want to hurt the coal industry,'" said Frank O'Donnell of Clean Air Watch. "That's a very delicate line to walk."

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