WASHINGTON, DC—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.
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.”
This is why the Center for American Progress Action Fund advocates strong emissions standards for new coal plant construction and a rigorous investment in advanced coal technology research and development. For true job growth and cleaner air, the Center for American Progress Action Fund is recommending the implementation of a $100 billion Green Recovery stimulus that puts our economy back on track by driving investment in green jobs. In the states McCain is running his “clean coal” ads:
– COLORADO: $1.7 billion investment in green recovery: 32,849 jobs (vs. 16,000 coal-related jobs)
– OHIO: $3.7 billion investment in green recovery: 80,360 jobs (vs. 18,500 coal-related jobs)
– PENNSYLVANIA: $4 billion investment in green recovery: 86,385 jobs (vs. 47,600 coal-related jobs)
– VIRGINIA: $2.7 billion investment in green recovery: 56,459 jobs (vs. 29,400 coal-related jobs)
The coal job numbers come from generous estimates for 2005 published by the coal industry’s lobbying group, the National Mining Association.
Unfortunately, lost in the chaos of the bailout negotiations for the financial sector has been Congress’s failure to extend the needed green job tax credits over conservative opposition.