Obama, Nuclear Power and Coal: All About the Green

We live in a degraded political culture. Here is an interesting exchange from the last Democratic presidential candidate debate, which took place earlier this week in South Carolina:

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (CNN)QUESTION: Hi, my name is Shawn and I'm from Ann Arbor, Michigan. There is a scientific consensus for man-caused climate change, and I've heard each of you talk in previous debates about alternative energy sources like solar or wind, but I have not heard any of you speak your opinion on nuclear power. I believe that nuclear power is safer, cleaner, and provides a quicker avenue to energy independence than other alternatives.QUESTION: I am curious what each of you believe.

ANDERSON COOPER: Senator Edwards?

JOHN EDWARDS: Wind, solar, cellulose-based biofuels are the way we need to go. I do not favor nuclear power. We haven't built a nuclear power plant in decades in this country. There is a reason for that. The reason is it is extremely costly. It takes an enormous amount of time to get one planned, developed and built. And we still don't have a safe way to dispose of the nuclear waste. It is a huge problem for America over the long term. I also don't believe we should liquefy coal. The last thing we need is another carbon-based fuel in America. We need to find fuels that are in fact renewable, clean, and will allow us to address directly the question that has been raised, which is the issue of global warming, which I believe is a crisis. 

COOPER: Senator Obama?

BARACK OBAMA: I actually think that we should explore nuclear power as part of the energy mix. There are no silver bullets to this issue. We have to develop solar. I have proposed drastically increasing fuel efficiency standards on cars, an aggressive cap on the amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted.

OBAMA: But we're going to have to try a series of different approaches.The one thing I have to remind folks, though, of — we've been talking about this through Republican administrations and Democratic administrations for decades.And the reason it doesn't change — you can take a look at how Dick Cheney did his energy policy. He met with environmental groups once. He met with renewable energy folks once. And then he met with oil and gas companies 40 times. And that's how they put together our energy policy. We've got to put the national interests ahead of special interests, and that's what I'll do as president of the United States.(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Senator Clinton, what is Senator Edwards — why is he wrong on nuclear power?

CLINTON: First of all, I have proposed a strategic energy fund that I would fund by taking away the tax break for the oil companies, which have gotten much greater under Bush and Cheney.(APPLAUSE)And we could spend about $50 billion doing what America does best. It's time we start acting like Americans again.

CLINTON: We can solve these problems if we focus on innovation and technology.So, yes, all these alternative forms of energy are important. So is fuel efficiency for cars and so is energy efficiency for buildings.I'm agnostic about nuclear power. John is right, that until we figure out what we're going to do with the waste and the cost, it's very hard to see nuclear as a part of our future. But that's where American technology comes in. Let's figure out what we're going to do about the waste and the cost if we think nuclear should be a part of the solution.But this issue of energy and global warming has the promise of creating millions of new jobs in America.


Okay, it's me (Street) again. Edwards has the right answer: nukes cost too much and are unsafe.  Hillary waffles but agrees with Edwards that nukes are too dangerous at present.  It's left to Obama to actually advocate "explor[ing] nuclear power as part of the energy mix" (as if it hasn't already been deeply explored for decades and found to be [a] too expensive and [b] too unsafe).  

Gee, what's the "green" Obama's position all about? Why does he "actually think" nuke plants are part of the energy fix? 

For a big part of the answer, please follow this link to Barack Obama's  "Top Contributors" on the "Open Secrets" web site of the Center for Responsive Politics – the venerable campaign finance watchdog group in Washington DC.  There you will see that Obama's third largest campaign contributor (after Goldman Sachs and Lehman Bros.) so far is Exelon Corporation ($191,000 through the second quarter of 2007).  Exelon is the parent company of Chicago's notorious Commonwealth Edison utility and is owner and operator of what it calls the nation’s largest fleet of nuclear energy plants.

Okay, why does Edwards add that he opposes coal liquification?  Probably because:

1. He knows It's not a good use of coal and that it's likely to exacerbate global warming,

2. He knows that "the coal industry [has] praise[d] Obama's reintroduction, with Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), of the Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Promotion Act of 2007, which would provide incentives for research and plant construction" (Elizabeth Williamson, "The Green Gripe with Obama: Liquified Coal is Still…Coal," Washington Post, 10 January, 2007, p. A11) 

"Why, environmentalists ask, is Obama backing a law supporting the expanded use of coal, whose emissions are cooking the globe? It seems the answer is twofold: his interest in energy independence — and his interest in downstate Illinois, where the senator's green tinge makes the coal industry queasy" (Williamson, "The Green Gripe").

There's  plenty more that could be exposed as grotesque in the Democrats' latest debate, including the refusal of all candidates (Obama included) but the Left congressman Dennis Kucinich to embrace reparations for slavery's powerfully living political-economic legacy of racial oppression and Bill Richardson's claim of concern for a fair vote (see Greg Palast's exposure of Richardson's effort to suppress vote-stealing investigations after the G.O.P. ripped off the New Mexico presdential vote in 2004 [pp. 253-258 in Palast's remarkable new book Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans - Sordid Secrets & Strange Tales of a White House GONE WILD [New York: Plume, 2007]).

But I'll stop here, with the Barockstar's cynical advance of nuclear power and coal liquification – a reminder that the technically black Obama' is all about the green…as in the money, not the earth.  

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