Here at Grist, we like to say that coal is the enemy of the human race. But what do Obama’s environmental nominees have to say about the dirtiest of all fossil fuels? Here’s what we heard at their confirmation hearings:

Steven Chu, nominee for secretary of energy: “I am optimistic we can figure out how to use those resources in a clean way. I’m very hopeful that this will occur and I think that we will be using that great natural resource.”

Lisa Jackson, nominee for EPA administrator: “Coal is a vital resource in this country. It is right now the source of generation of about 50 percent of our power. And I think that it is also important for us to say in the same sentence that it is — the emissions from coal-fired power plants are — the largest contributor to global warming emissions. So we have to face square-shouldered the future and the issues of coal and then move American ingenuity towards addressing them.”

Ken Salazar, nominee for secretary of the interior: “Coal is a controversial subject. The fact of the matter is it powers today much of America, and there are lots of jobs it creates … The challenge is how we create clean coal … I believe that we will move forward with the funding of some of those demonstration projects so we can find ways to burn coal that don’t contribute to climate change. I will certainly be an advocate of making that happen.”

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