Ever since Barack Obama's running mate Joe Biden was caught on tape talking bad about coal, McCain and Palin have been repeating it to voters in coal country, despite the Obama's campaign explanation (Biden didn't mean it that way) and despite that it contradicts Obama's detailed energy plan.
Here's the McCain-Palin radio ad, which aired in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia:
And the television ad:
Here's what Biden said:
FactCheck.org called the radio ad "false." Here's how the org interpreted it all:
Obama's energy plan, which he began promoting well over a year ago, calls for investing in "low emissions coal plants" and creating "5 'first-of-a-kind' commercial scale coal-fired plants with carbon capture and sequestration." His position in support of clean coal has been clear.
The ad's claim rests solely on a remark Biden made when questioned while shaking hands on a rope line in Ohio. Biden said, "Were not supporting clean coal." The campaign says he meant something else entirely. Regardless, it's Obama's energy plan that the ticket is running on.
Clean coal means four things:
Politically, it means votes from coal miners and other blue collar voters. So that means pandering.
Technologically, it means investment -- years of investment. Clean coal doesn't exist today. The term basically means burying emissions from burning coal underground. It's only been tried in a handful of plants, and it will take years and dollars to make it viable and widespread.
Practically, it means investing in a source of domestic energy, coal, that already generates about half our electricity. Relying on coal means the goal of "energy independence" seems closer.
Environmentally, it means committing to many more years of destructive coal mining, and burning the dirtiest fossil fuel, which is responsible for much of the nation's carbon emissions, as well as significant contributions to acid rain, smog and mercury, despite decades of regulation that has cracked down on those pollutants.
Considering all that, Biden's statement about investing in technology -- to burn coal cleanly elsewhere, and to generate renewable energy here -- doesn't sound so bad. It's not, however, what either Obama or McCain support. Both back "clean coal."
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