The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity had a message for Hillary Clinton before a speech of hers and it raises some interesting questions.

The clean coal industry is asking Hillary Clinton to be the “voice of reason” for coal if she makes a run for the White House.

Ahead of her remarks at the annual dinner of the League of Conservation Voters — an influential environmental group — the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) urged Clinton to back coal as a source of “reliable, affordable” electricity for the United States.

“As Mrs. Clinton considers another run for the White House, we hope that she continues to be the voice of reason for coal-powered electricity,” said Laura Sheehan of ACCCE.

This may sound like something from a back issue of MAD Magazine at first glance, but it’s not entirely lacking in a grain of truth at the center. It’s true that Hillary has never really been convincing on the subject and has been a full throat backer of Obama’s EPA regulations which are already shutting down coal fired plants, but her language wasn’t always so easy to decode.

Back during the 2008 election, we need to recall that she was in a bitter fight for the nomination with Obama, and they had to compete in a lot of energy producing states. As early as 2007 she told Salon Magazine that she was actually very open minded on the subject.

“I think we have got to take a hard look at clean coal. I have advocated carbon sequestration, I have advocated power plants looking for ways to use coal more cleanly and efficiently. I doubt very much that using coal in liquid form for transportation could ever pass the environmental test, but I am willing to do the research to prove it one way or another.”

Later in the campaign, during a stop in Indiana, Clinton made noises which made her look even more open to coal power.

“We’re going to use coal. There’s no doubt about that. It’s just that we’ve got to figure out how to make it as clean as coal can be. It’s important for us to do this because I think if we put our minds to it we would be the world leaders. And we can start by exporting technology and creating jobs. But we’ve got to figure out how to get the cost down.”

The internet has a long memory and Ms. Clinton will have some questions to answer if she plans on throwing her fancy hat in the 2016 ring next month. Last time around she only had to pander on coal to a handful of Democrat voters in a few Right leaning primary states. This time, assuming she is the essentially uncontested Democrat nominee, she will be fighting for the overall vote in a number of swing states (some of which still rely heavily on coal) as well as the love of voters who will face rising energy costs as the EPA drives more coal plants off the grid. But at the same time, she needs to maximize her turnout with the hard Left base, most of whom oppose any energy sources not derived from unicorn flatulence. These factors have to be balanced with her total lack of public opinion on Keystone, a subject hated by her base but broadly supported across party lines by a majority of Americans.

It’s probably an overall plus for Clinton that these things are being dredged up now. It gives her more time to test drive her sidestepping and dodging answers before the big race is truly underway. And if she can answer them sufficiently now, she can play the “That’s Ancient History” card during the 2015 debate cycle. But would anyone really be foolish enough to buy it? Hey.. this is American politics. Nothing is impossible.