Video: The White House Talks Coal

on May 25, 2011 at 4:45 PM

There seems to be some uncertainty whether the United States is the Saudi Arabia of natural gas, the Saudi Arabia of coal. Perhaps as President Obama says in this video, its “both, and” not “either, or.”

The President is talking about energy policy, but its interesting to remember that the Administration has acknowledged the centrality of coal, which continues to generate roughly half of US electricity, despite a sustained focus on renewable fuels.

In this blast from the past video, President Obama is meeting with governors of a number of states to discuss his clean energy agenda, and he says very clearly that clean coal is a part of that agenda.

“Coal is our most bountiful natural resource,” he tells a group of governors gathered at the White House, and invokes the classic “Saudi Arabia of coal” line. He also announces the Carbon Capture and Storage Task Force.

He acknowledges the challenges and says that his administration is taking a non-ideological approach. They’re willing to make some hard choices, the President says.

Joe Biden gets a word in to defend the role of the stimulus in the coal and biofuels businesses. The stimulus is “putting the country on track to lead in clean coal technology,” including underpinning exports to China where coal plants are still being built and put into service at a dizzying rate.

“This is a place where conscience and convenience cross paths,” Biden adds.

“We can’t afford to spin our wheels,” Obama says.

The White House hasn’t done much to advance a comprehensive energy policy since, and has largely left the field open for states and for Congress to ask the hard questions about clean energy.

For more on the Congressional Clean Energy Standard effort, see “Cage Match On Capitol Hill” by Margaret Ryan.