Recently, CNN’s senior business correspondent Ali Velshi has been promoting coal-based liquid fuel as a response to high oil prices, even though it leads to climate disaster. Yesterday, the Wonk Room noted that Velshi has even implied coal is cleaner than himself. This afternoon, Velshi continued his obsession with liquid coal in a discussion with CNN’s Glenn Beck. Beck is a self-described “big dumb rodeo clown” who believes the United States is a “suicidal superpower” for not turning coal into gasoline:
This can be done — coal to oil — at $55 a barrel. That’s about half of what we are paying right now for oil. We can have cheap oil that is actually good for the nation because it is all home grown. We’re sitting … just Montana is the Saudi Arabia of coal.
Montana does indeed have vast coal reserves. But coal-based fuel is in fact a dangerous and expensive prospect once the high costs of its pollution are factored in — especially its carbon dioxide global warming emissions.
Velshi then noted that his “clean coal” boosterism has raised questions about his journalistic integrity:
Well you know, South Africa, most of the gasoline it uses is produced from coal. I did something on this the other day and the number of e-mails and comments I got about how I’m shilling for the coal industry . . .
After Beck scoffed, “Oh please,” Velshi then made his most accurate pronouncement about coal to date:
I don’t think it’s clean. It’s not cleaner. It just happens to not be oil.
Glenn Beck — whose response to the threat of climate change is to complain that polar bears eat people — was terribly alarmed by Velshi’s moment of truth:
Now hang on just a second. We can sequester the CO2 now. We can make it cleaner than it has been.
In fact, there is not a single coal plant producing electricity or fuel that sequesters carbon dioxide anywhere on the planet. Although we definitely can make coal cleaner, the coal industry is doing everything it can to ensure that the American taxpayer foots the bill. If Velshi were truly interested in the economics of coal, he would host financial analysts that discuss the economic risks of coal power, not global-warming deniers like Glenn Beck.
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