22 January 2007

Barack Not an Island

According to the League of Conservation Voters, Barack Obama's senatorial record on environmental issues is nearly perfect. At a time when most congress members were ignoring inconvenient truths, Obama made speeches about how global warming was a reality we needed to address sooner rather than later. Then why is Grist saying, "Not so much" to his new energy plan? [In a sick twist, they praise Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), notorious for having a hissy fit on the floor when a fellow Senator tried to block his Bridge to Nowhere, for his "progressive" fuel economy proposal this session.]

The love affair between enviros and Obama ended over his introduction of a new coal-to-liquid proposal which would benefit downstate Illinois at the price of adding a lot more CO2 emissions. The Coal-to-Liquid (CTL) Fuel Promotion Act of 2007 is an ill-thought piece of green-wannabe legislation designed to appease some of Obama's squeakiest home-state wheels. According to the Senator's spokesman, Tony Vietor, "Illinois basin coal has more untapped energy potential than the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait combined."

The coal industry says that converting coal into diesel engine fuel would reduce dependence on foreign oil through a new, home-mined fuel that burns as cleanly as gasoline. The environmentalists say that's nice, but it's still coal. Coal-mining doesn't meet any standard for environmental protection nor does it lower overall emissions and the United States shouldn't be using South Africa as a model for going green.

The Presidential mantle flaps in the breeze, and it will be interesting to see whether Obama decides to go with his demonstrated principles, which would gain him the national eco-vote, or with his downstate demands, which would gain him a monied interest in his 2008 campaign.

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