Environmentalists are cheering the new EPA draft rules that cap carbon emissions from new power plants, and effectively prevent future construction of traditional coal-power. And they should.
The coal industry is whining that the White House has launched a “war on coal.” They shouldn’t.
It’s true that the new rules won’t allow the coal industry to pollute at will and build using old technology.
But the Obama administration is going the extra mile to help the coal industry adapt to the new rules. From the New York Times:
The Obama administration has decided to revive a controversial loan guarantee program at the Energy Department, administration officials said on Thursday, even as the program remains under Congressional scrutiny after losing hundreds of millions in taxpayer money on investments in failed green energy start-ups like the solar module maker Solyndra.
This time, though, the program would devote as much as $8 billion to helping industries like coal and oil make cleaner energy. Although the program, which does not require Congressional approval, would support a wide range of technologies, it could help coal-fired power plants find a way to keep their emissions from escaping into the atmosphere, department officials said.
Now there are plenty of environmentalists unhappy about President Obama’s interest in subsidizing coal’s survival. They raise legitimate questions whether the amount of money it would cost to develop technology to capture and bury carbon emissions from coal plants could be better spent elsewhere.
But President Obama’s is doing his level best to avert a climate crisis in a way that allows for the smoothest possible transition, even if that costs more money.
It’s a fair debate whether that is the best strategy for the climate or the economy.
But just as a matter of plain fact: Obama is not launching a war on coal. He’s bending over backwards to keep coal viable.