On a day when Congress focuses on the deteriorating financial markets, John McCain has given up his pledge to stay in Washington to get a deal done. Instead, back on the campaign trail, he wants to talk about coal. McCain is selling a fantasy of a coal- and oil-based economy, in ads airing in Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia:
“Clean coal” is important to America. And to Colorado. For Coloradoans, coal means thousands of jobs. Economic growth. More affordable electricity. For America, coal means energy independence. And “clean coal” means cleaner air. But Obama-Biden and their liberal allies oppose “clean coal.”
In fact, coal is a dirty, deadly fuel that is becoming increasingly expensive. And a coal-based economy doesn’t promise real job growth, either. The coal industry has in fact been cutting jobs while increasing production and profits. Finally, continued use of coal — as the most concentrated global warming pollutant — is threatening the future of human civilization, something McCain himself seems to recognize.
McCain’s ads confuse coal with “clean coal” — the industry’s preferred term for technologies still in development to sequester coal’s deadly pollution. Such advanced coal technology may promise “cleaner air” — in comparison to the continued use of traditional coal plants — if and when it is developed. The “clean coal” propaganda campaign must not substitute for real technological innovation. This is what Al Gore meant when he said last week:
If the coal companies can actually sequester CO2 safely, then okay. But don’t, don’t pretend to do it. Don’t, don’t, don’t give us this illusion. Because that’s what they did on Wall Street. “The risk isn’t there. Don’t worry about it. Just keep focusing on the short term profit.”