The Left wing hates coal.
Obama’s energy challenge is coal, not oil
45 percent of the nation’s electricity is generated by coal-fired power plants
By Howard Fineman
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama touched off a new environmental skirmish with his decision to open vast new areas of the American coastline to offshore oil drilling. But as loud as that battle is going to get, it is nothing compared with the real energy war to come.
I speak, of course, of the Coal War.
Forget whatever else you hear about energy policy, the real fight — and the real political problem — this year in Congress will be how to deal with our nagging reliance on the most abundant component of our carbon-based patrimony.
We can talk until we’re blue in the face about offshore drilling, wind power, natural gas, and energy conservation … but the short-term drift of history still dictates a heavy reliance on the dirtiest and deadliest of all fuels: coal.
The big question in the energy bill — if there is one — is how and whether Congress will ask the American people to pay for the cost of controlling the environmental consequences of that reliance.
At its core, the president’s energy vision calls for switching our transportation system from oil to plug-in electricity. But 45 percent of all electricity in the country is still generated by coal-fired power plants. In other words, we run the real risk of merely replacing one polluting and increasingly scarce fuel, petroleum, with an abundant but even more environmentally troublesome one, coal.
An energy bill that, among other things, would tax pollution caused by burning fossil fuels was passed by the House last year. It’s gotten nowhere in the Senate. Obama’s drilling announcement was designed to get the Senate’s attention — and garner some Republican support.
But opening up offshore drilling prospects is politically, the easy part. I think the president can get that piece of the puzzle.
The hard part is going to be convincing senators from coal-producing and/or electricity-exporting states to go along with any sort of carbon tax.
States with power plants that generate electricity from coal read like a roster of presidential swing states. Among them: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Missouri and North Carolina. And other states with major coal commitments include: Georgia, Arizona, Kentucky and Wyoming.
Getting 60 votes for some kind of carbon-pollution tax, even if it’s in the most attenuated “cap-and-trade” form, will be next to impossible.
Go read the rest. It is pretty good. Everyone have a great weekend. More next week.