Obama Declares War on Coal
Early voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere wish they had known sooner.


Deroy Murdock

In a November surprise, Barack Obama envisions bankrupting anyone who tries to open a new coal-powered electrical plant. This news should chill voters in coal-producing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. It also should worry Americans from coast to coast who rely on coal-fueled electricity far more than they may realize. They also will pay more for it than they do today. Talk about “change.”

Obama openly discussed this with the San Francisco Chronicle. However, the piece that appeared last January 18 excluded these details which surfaced over the weekend, thanks to an audio tape of Obama’s appearance before the paper’s editorial board.

Obama explained that under his cap-and-trade scheme he plans for fighting so-called global warming: “if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

It truly is stunning to hear an American presidential candidate speak so casually and cavalierly about bankrupting U.S. businesses that wish to profit from lawful commercial activity.

This attitude should give spinal tremors to voters in coal-producing states. One wonders how Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia would fare, given an Obama presidency’s anti-coal bias.

As it happens, the coal industry employed 120,150 people last year. The bankruptcies that Obama threatens cannot bode well for their financial well-being.

“So what?” Americans in Manhattan, Malibu, and Miami might think. “We ain’t got no stinkin’ coal mines.”

Well, Americans happen to rely on coal for 48.7 percent of our electricity. If you are reading this by the light of a 100-watt bulb, Obama essentially wants to squeeze 49 of those watts. This means higher electricity bills for you and our countrymen.

Right-wing alarmism? Don’t believe me. Listen to Obama.

“Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket,” Obama told the Chronicle. “Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad, because I’m capping greenhouse gasses, coal power plants, natural gas…you name it…whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retro-fit their operations. That will cost money . . . they will pass that money on to the consumers.”

Obama wants Americans to pay more for electricity, not just from coal-powered plants, but even from those that burn natural gas, a far cleaner fuel. Previously hailed as an Earth-friendly alternative to oil and coal, Obama now targets natural gas for brand-new taxes. As Obama suggested in last February 19’s San Antonio Express-News: What we ought to tax is dirty energy, like coal and, to a lesser extent, natural gas.”

“Obama is repeating the very quiet but very firm mantra of the global-warming alarmist industry, to be chanted only among friends,” says Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Chris Horner, author of the new book, Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Force, Fraud, and Deception to Keep You Misinformed. “The idea is to price electricity out of certain levels of use. Inherently, that means seniors and the poor, in addition to certain industries.”

Obama supporters respond that Republican John McCain also wants a cap-and-trade system. True, but the more market-oriented McCain would give away carbon certificates and let them trade freely among energy companies and other carbon-dioxide producers. Obama would auction them off, which would require expensive up-front “bids” from those who would need such certificates in order to stay in business.

Thus, Obama brags about his plan’s toughness.

“We would put a cap-and-trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else’s out there,” he told the Chronicle.

It’s a shame, but hardly surprising, that the pro-Obama Chronicle excluded these details from its January 18 article. Americans should have had all of 2008 to debate these radical policy proposals. Instead, this bombshell arrives after some 25 percent of Americans already have voted. (This is yet another example of the idiocy and perniciousness of commencing early voting in the fall campaign’s “7th inning.”) While this news may make some Obama supporters regret their already-cast votes, the rest of the electorate has but one day to ponder the idea of an American president who would boost their power bills, bankrupt U.S. businesses, and incinerate the jobs they would create.

Deroy Murdock is a New York-based columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution.

© 2008 Scripps Howard News Service.


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