Muckraker: Grist on Politics

• Not shocking, considering how many “clean coal” ads we’ve seen this election season, but The Wall Street Journal looks at what Big Coal is doing to make sure its industry is on the candidates’ minds this year. The coal-mining industry as a whole has given $2,640,226 to candidates this election cycle, but that’s just the beginning. The industry group American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity has spent nearly $40 million on television and radio ads, and spent $1.7 million on advertising and workers handing out water bottles, hats, buttons, and literature at the two political conventions. And in the first six months of 2008, coal and electric utilities spent a combined total of nearly $138 million on political and media expenditures, according to a recent report [PDF] from the Public Campaign Action Fund.

Reuters looks at John McCain’s opposition to ethanol tariffs. The New York Times‘ Green Inc. blog also looks at the role of ethanol in the election.

• The AP has more on Sarah Palin’s support for exporting natural gas from the Kenai Liquefied Natural Gas facility in Alaska to Japan. In June, when an export license was extended through 2011, Palin said, “In these times of economic uncertainty, this is great news for the state and its residents.” Her support of exporting seems to conflict with her repeated claims on the campaign trail that the U.S. should be doing more with domestic supplies in order to encourage greater “energy independence.”

• Environment America looks at John McCain’s record on water issues and concludes that it’s “bad.” “America needs a president who understands the importance of clean water to the nation’s economy and our environment and will take on the polluters,” the group writes. “Unfortunately, during his time in the U.S. Senate, John McCain too often stood with the polluters as they worked to dismantle America’s protections for clean water.”

• There are substantial differences in the ways that McCain and Obama would approach energy policy, though they both note it as a top issue, concludes the Los Angeles Times.

The Seattle Times catalogs the ways the two VP candidates differ on environmental issues.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer‘s green blog wonders whether John McCain’s “environmental pluses” are “more numerous than thought.” The suggestion stems from commentary delivered by David Jenkins of Republicans for Environmental Protection at the recent Society of Environmental Journalists conference. REP has endorsed McCain.

The New York Times features an op-ed on Palin and Cook Inlet beluga whales, which she has opposed listing as an endangered species. She argues that doing so would be “premature,” and she doesn’t want a listing to interfere with the oil and gas industry. The whale population in the inlet has dropped from 653 in 1994 to an estimated 278 in 2005.

• Obama appears to be holding his own among rural voters in swing states.