remember, tuesday is soylent green day
I know we'll never have Clean Soylent Green - because it's made of people!
ENN, via Reuters:
CLEAR FORK, West Virginia (Reuters) - Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are talking more about "clean coal" and less about global warming as they woo voters in West Virginia and Kentucky -- two states that sit at the heart of the nation's coal economy.
In a bid to draw voters ahead of Democratic primaries in West Virginia on Tuesday and Kentucky on May 20, both candidates are playing up the ascendant role of commercially untested and so far economically nonviable ways of converting America's plentiful coal supplies into electricity without spewing massive quantities of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
"We need some big investments right now in figuring out how to capture and store carbon dioxide from coal," Clinton told a rally in the rural town of Clear Fork on Monday.
To get there, she took a windy road through the Appalachian Mountains that passed at least four big coal mines cut into the mountainside.
Not to be outdone, Obama's campaign has distributed flyers in Kentucky stating that "Barack Obama believes in clean Kentucky coal." The flyers show a picture of giant barges carrying coal down the Ohio River.
Coal-fired power plants generate about half of U.S. electricity supplies, and account for about 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions -- the biggest single industrial source.
Clinton has a plan to require U.S. industry to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, but she hasn't brought that up in numerous appearances in West Virginia and Kentucky in recent days.
But America has 250 years worth of coal, and will likely remain the backbone of its power generation system for decades. "I know how important coal is to West Virginia," Clinton said last week in the state's capitol rotunda in Charleston. "Coal is not going anywhere for the foreseeable future."
Candidates' support for clean coal indicates a tension between their need to bring along delegate-rich coal states like Pennsylvania and Illinois and their global warming platforms.
"There is no such animal as clean coal," said Brent Blackwelder, president of the environmental group Friends of the Earth. "We shouldn't be placing our bets on coal to bail us out. We need to be looking at getting rid of coal plants."
Among Eastern U.S. states, West Virginia and Kentucky lead the pack in coal production and employ about half of U.S. coal industry workers -- about 39,000 people.
Both candidates support legislation that could be debated by the Senate this summer that would require U.S. industry to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 70 percent by 2050.
Coal states don't hold the same clout as Farm Belt states who control about a quarter of U.S. Electoral College votes and have pushed for higher government mandates to boost U.S. consumption of ethanol -- made mostly from corn.
But "Big Coal" states are not to be ignored on the electoral map. And as the Democratic presidential process comes down to the wire, coal plays prominently in three of the six remaining primaries including Montana on June 3.
This is the sort of thing that makes a blogger wanna vote Nader: for starters, coal in West Virginia and coal in Montana are different things. In West Virginia, coal extraction is an extremely intrusive process that utterly ruins the local ecology; elsewhere, though not exactly a healthy thing, it's in essence a matter of turning the ground over. In addition, coal isn't "just coal" - because of Clean Air Act provisions, some coal is usable here in America, and some is not. On top of this the whole 250-years-of-coal thing is totally false. The U.S. may have 250 years of coal, but much like the problem presented by peak oil, you have to get to it first, then move it out, etc. And then there's the Clean Air provisions, which cuts down on the actual amount of coal that can be developed.
West Virginia has been attempting to organize its' economy around coal for the last 150 years. Politicians back then wondered aloud why that state had not reached the economic and cultural level of economic centers like New York or Boston. This was at the cusp of the Industrial Revolution, when there was ostensible "room" for coal in this country; pandering to a beaten down electorate that believes one more smashed mountaintop or one more dangerous mineshaft will finally, finally put the state right - in a period of human history, not just national history, where we have no choice but to phase the stuff out of our lives - is sad.