When it comes to coal, Barack Obama lost all of his credibility with the Right when he told the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2008 that any new coal-burning plant would get bankrupted in an Obama presidency, thanks to tough environmental policies he planned to use to discourage fossil fuel use. As for Democrats and crossover voters in Coal Belt states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and West Virginia, they clung to Obama’s promise to support clean-coal technology, and to his appointment of a supposedly coal-friendly EPA chief. Now, however, after the EPA has announced its plans to consider carbon dioxide a dangerous emission and the halting of coal-mining permits, not even Senator Jay Rockefeller can maintain the illusion any longer (via Geoff A):
For too long, some coal-state members of Congress accepted Obama’s promises without noticing the 800-pound gorilla in the room – administration policies. There is evidence that may change.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., seems to have become a convert. Last week he signaled strongly that promises from the White House are not enough. During a Senate hearing on Obama’s proposal for the 2001 budget, Rockefeller lashed out.
According to one published report, Rockefeller made it clear “he isn’t sure he trusts the president’s commitments to coal. …” Referring to Obama’s pledges to support coal, the senator complained that, “He says it in his speeches, but he doesn’t say it in (his budget proposal). He doesn’t say it in the actions of (EPA Administrator) Lisa Jackson. And he doesn’t say it in the minds of my own people. And he’s beginning to not be believable to me.”
Gee … ya think? How thick-headed does one have to be to not understand Obama’s point in saying this:
The problem is not technical, uh, and the problem is not mastery of the legislative intricacies of Washington. The problem is, uh, can you get the American people to say, “This is really important,” and force their representatives to do the right thing? That requires mobilizing a citizenry. That requires them understanding what is at stake. Uh, and climate change is a great example.
You know, when I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, uh, you know — Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it — whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.
They — you — you can already see what the arguments will be during the general election. People will say, “Ah, Obama and Al Gore, these folks, they’re going to destroy the economy, this is going to cost us eight trillion dollars,” or whatever their number is. Um, if you can’t persuade the American people that yes, there is going to be some increase in electricity rates on the front end, but that over the long term, because of combinations of more efficient energy usage, changing lightbulbs and more efficient appliance, but also technology improving how we can produce clean energy, the economy would benefit.
If we can’t make that argument persuasively enough, you — you, uh, can be Lyndon Johnson, you can be the master of Washington. You’re not going to get that done.
Is Rockefeller sincere? I find it difficult in the extreme to believe that anyone with enough cranial power to breathe without written instructions could have misinterpreted what Obama promised in this Chronicle interview. It didn’t get made public until a few days before the election, and people in the Coal Belt may not have heard about it in time, but it’s been part of the record ever since. And as Rockefeller himself points out, the administration’s actions on coal for the past thirteen months have made clear their animus towards that “great natural resource.”
If Rockefeller is sincere, then he deserves a Captain Louis Renault Award for his shock, shock! at Obama’s hostility towards the industry that powers his home state. If not, then West Virginians need to replace Rockefeller at the first opportunity — unfortunately, four years out — to send someone a little more honest and less clueless to the US Senate. Either way, all of the rest of us who have been warning about Obama’s environmental extremism can certainly add Rockefeller’s belated complaint to the mountain(top) of evidence for our argument.