In a story, fittingly, featured in the Charleston Gazette, in West Virginia's coal country, about people are puzzling over how John McCain and Barack Obama really feel about coal.
They both say they support "clean coal" -- a code word for yet-to-be-developed technology that would either turn coal to gas before burning, or else bury the carbon emissions deep underground after burning. It's a way for politicians to embrace an abundant domestic fuel source that employs blue-collar workers, without embracing the pollution that comes along with it.
About 50 % of U.S. electricity comes from burning coal, and it's the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as pollution in the form of toxic mercury, acid rain gases, smog and soot. In a word: dirty.
Coal is, along with oil, the central figure in our energy picture. Yet, the candidates focus energy talking about it. offshore oil drilling form the backbone of McCain's energy talking points, while renewable energy and conservation form the backbone of Obama's. Both candidates say they would cap and trade carbon emissions, putting a de facto tax on coal-fired power plants. (For more on the candidates' energy policies, see Green Election Issues 101.)
But they see coal very much being used into the future, just by newer, cleaner methods. But where does all that coal originate? ... Read the full story.