The 2008 election cycle gave us “Drill, baby, drill!,” courtesy of then-VP candidate Sarah Palin (R-AK), but in 2012, it looks to be “Burn, baby, burn!” (and not even in a Disco Inferno). And this time, it might not even be the Republicans chanting it.
President Obama is already out of the gate with one such pro-coal-mining commercial, slamming his Republican opponent Mitt Romney for saying that a Salem, Ohio coal plant “kills people.” That plant, according to Romney’s campaign, was violating state environmental law in a state not know for its exacting enforcement efforts. But for a President whose economic plans once nicely dovetailed with his “green jobs” initiatives, attacking his opponent for being insufficiently committed to coal-burning power plants is enough to make one’s head spin.
Obama has said that coal should be mined for “clean coal” power plants, a series of expensive, technological hoops and retrofits in which the coal-fired plants that produces half of the country’s electricity and 36 percent of its overall toxic emissions may be able to capture a percentage of the acid-rain-generating nitrogen dioxide and sulfur oxide, carbon dioxide and ash they produce. At best, the technologies promoted by the industry and hyped by Obama are cleaner coal technologies — but they are far from the layperson’s idea of clean.
But having, as the Washington Post reported, only narrowly won the primary in coal-producing West Virginia, the last hope of the coal industry is Obama’s new hope for a win there and (as the ad makes clear) in the swing-state of Ohio.
And as for the environmentalists who voted for Obama in 2008 thinking he’d be better than the alternatives? Well, they have their answer: an ad attacking Mitt Romney for his opposition to regulation-defying, environmentally hazardous coal-fired power plant. We don’t need no water.