Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Obama loves coal!

No, he’s a flip-flopper who’s ready to embrace policies that would hurt America’s coal industry and its many employees across the country.

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So which one is it?

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USA Today is the latest major media outlet to explore the Democratic presidential candidate and his views on coal, with a piece last Friday looking at how he has changed some of his talking points on the fossil fuel over the years.

The piece notes that when Obama ran for U.S. Senate in 2004, he claimed that “there’s always going to be a role for coal” in Illinois, standing with miners in a press conference. USA Today also reminds readers that employees of coal companies and electric utilities have contributed $539,597 to his Senate and presidential campaigns, according to campaign finance data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

In May 1998, state Sen. Obama voted in favor of a bill condemning the Kyoto global warming treaty and preventing Illinois from making moves to regulate greenhouse gases, at least in part because of pressure from the state’s coal industry. Fast forward a decade, and now Obama calls climate change “one of the greatest moral challenges of our generation.”

But this isn’t to say Obama has turned his back entirely on the coal industry. He’s talked about his support numerous times on the presidential campaign trail.

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His policies, however, undercut his verbal support. His energy adviser, Jason Grumet, told Grist that “the policies we have already articulated make [coal plants without CCS] economically unrealistic.”