Biden: “No coal plants here in America”

According to this Wonk Room (Think Progress) blog posting, Senator and Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, stated — at a September 17, 2008 campaign stop — that the Obama campaign was "not supporting clean coal."

That comment came when Biden answered a question from an environmental activist in the crowd about energy options for the country. In response, he clearly stated his strong support of renewable energy technologies like solar and wind and then moved on to attack coal as "dirty" and claimed it was "causing people to die." He made it abundantly clear that he was "not supporting clean coal."

Questioner: Senator … Senator … wind and solar are flourishing here in Ohio, so why are you supporting clean coal?

Biden: Sorry I didn’t hear what you said.

Questioner: Wind and solar are flourishing here in Ohio, so why are you supporting clean coal?

Biden: We’re not supporting clean coal. Guess what. China’s building two … every week … two dirty coal plants. And it’s polluting the United States. It’s causing people to die.

Questioner: So will you support wind and solar over all these other technologies?

Biden: Absolutely! Before anybody did. The first guy to introduce a global warming bill was me, 22 years ago. The first guy to support solar energy was me, 26 years ago. It came out of Delaware. But guess what. China’s gonna burn 300 years of bad coal unless we figure out how to clean their coal up, because it’s gonna ruin your lungs, and there’s nothing we can do about it. No coal plants here in America. Build them, if they’re gonna build them, over there. Make ’em clean, because you’re killing you."

The Senator’s response to coal is not surprising, however. We have reported on the Coalblog how
Biden has repeatedly attacked coal-based energy, claiming that it was
more dangerous to the country than terrorism.

His comments also mirror comments that he made in a Grist interview in August 2007.

Grist: What role does "clean coal" play in your vision for energy independence and climate security?

Biden: I don’t think there’s much of a role for clean coal in energy
independence, but I do think there’s a significant role for clean coal
in the bigger picture of climate change. Clean-coal technology is not
the route to go in the United States, because we have other, cleaner
alternatives. But I would invest a considerable amount of money in
research and development of clean-coal and carbon-sequestration
technologies for export. China is building one new coal-fired plant per
week. That’s not going to change unless there’s a fundamental change in
technology, because they have about 300 years of dirty coal, and
they’re going to use it.

Grist: Would you impose a moratorium on the development of old-style coal power plants in the U.S.?

Biden: I believe that all new coal-fired power plants should be built with carbon capture and sequestration capacity.

Grist: What’s your position on liquefied coal?

Biden: Again, I don’t think it’s the way to go in the U.S., but we could
invest in technologies for export. I don’t think there’s any reasonable
prospect that China, as it continues to grow to 1.4 billion people, is
not going to use their coal.

Coal industry members could be excused for minor confusion over Biden’s exact feelings about the coal industry as he claimed to be a "hard coal miner" last Saturday while speaking at a United Mine Workers fish fry in Virginia.

In his first visit to Southwest Virginia,
Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden, speaking at the United
Mine Workers’ annual fish fry here on Saturday, was quick to tout his
ties to coal.

“I hope you won’t hold it against me, but I am a hard-coal miner,
anthracite coal, Scranton, Pa.,” Biden said. “It’s nice to be back in
coal country. … It’s a different accent [in Southwest Virginia] … but
it’s the same deal. …

He promised Democrats would bring … investment in clean-coal and liquid-coal technologies. …

Asked whether Obama is truly a friend of coal, Eastern Coal Council
Executive Director Barbara Altizer said Obama did support a clean-coal
research facility.

“I think he’s maybe not as good a friend as we’d like to have, but I
think all of the candidates will have to support clean-coal
technology,” Altizer said. “I keep hoping whoever gets the election,
they’ll have the opportunity to learn about coal and they’ll be a good

On the issue of helping the candidates learn the value of our coal resource, we would echo the urgings of the National Mining Association in an email today. That email encouraged Americans to "tell Senator Biden He’s Wrong on Coal."

The American coal industry is a vital component of our economy. It provides half of the electricity that Americans use each day and the energy it provides is both clean and affordable. It also provides tens of thousands of high-poaying careers for working families across the country.

The American Coal Council agrees with the sentiments expressed in the NMA’s email,

Call or write Sen. Biden and show your support for coal and urge him to support clean and affordable energy and support the thousands of working families across the country who depend on high-paying coal jobs.

Tell Sen. Biden:

  • You can’t be against coal and be for affordable electricity for American households.
  • You can’t be against coal and be for U.S. energy security.
  • You can’t be against clean coal technologies and be for effective climate change solutions.
  • You can’t be against coal and be for the 120,000 American coal workers and their families.

Write to Sen. Biden by e-mailing him at:


You can also post a message through the campaign’s blog at:

24. September 2008 by
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