Energy Wire

November 2008 Archives

November 3, 2008 5:52 PM

The Last Minute Obama-McCain Coal Debate

The U.S. coal industry was up in arms today over a comment Sen.
Barack Obama (D-Ill.) made about the future of coal, and it became one of the last-minute issues in an effort to swing votes in coal-producing regions of the Midwest.

The Western Business Roundtable, the National Mining Association and various other groups criticized Obama for a comment he made in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. They quoted the interview at some length, in which Obama discusses his support for a cap-and-trade bill that would force all emitters of greenhouse gases to buy allowances in a public auction. This is a plan that has very widespread support among Democrats, some Republicans (including Sen. John McCain, who co-sponsored two cap-and-trade bills) and many utilities (especially those with more nuclear than greenhouse gas-emitting coal plants).

Here's the key line from Obama: "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 emitted."

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November 6, 2008 12:11 PM

Obama's Energy Department

Let the speculating begin. Not oil speculation, but job speculation for the new Obama administration.

Here's what I'm hearing, and thinking.

First, the Energy Department is an odd beast. Thirty six percent of its $25 billion budget is related to national security, dealing with nuclear materials from things like decommissioned nuclear weapons and naval reactors. Another 25 percent of its budget goes to environmental management and civilian nuclear waste management. Another sizable chunk goes to the national laboratories, over which the secretary exerts modest control at best. So it hasn't been the most sought-after cabinet post.

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