U.S. Coal Lobbies Frantically to Save Its Doomed-Ass Self

Obama’s “all of the above” strategy tacitly leaves out coal.

Rainforest Action Network/Flickr

Way back in his 2011 State of the Union speech, President Obama introduced a new idea, a “Clean Energy Standard” to boost America’s use of low-carbon electricity. As a piece of legislation it went nowhere, of course, because … Congress. But as a conceptual sketch of the future of energy, it had an interesting feature: It included everything except coal.

Why? Because any metric of “clean” rules out coal. You can loosen the definition to include natural gas (half as much CO2 as coal, a small fraction of the conventional pollutants) and nuclear. But there is no comparative standard of cleanliness that will accommodate coal. It is the benchmark of filthiness.

Obama’s recent “all of the above” energy comments have had the same feature. If you listen closely, it’s not really all of the above. It’s everything except coal (save the occasional rhetorical nods to “clean coal,” which amounts to saying, “unicorns will also be allowed in our zoo”).

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