Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bankrupting Coal Plants?

Let me sort of describe my overall policy.

What I’ve said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else’s out there.
I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.

That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches.

The only thing I’ve said with respect to coal, I haven’t been some coal booster. What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as a ideological matter as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can.

It’s just that it will bankrupt them.


Anonymous said...

from McCain's website:

John McCain Proposes A Cap-And-Trade System That Would Set Limits On Greenhouse Gas Emissions While Encouraging The Development Of Low-Cost Compliance Options. A climate cap-and-trade mechanism would set a limit on greenhouse gas emissions and allow entities to buy and sell rights to emit, similar to the successful acid rain trading program of the early 1990s. The key feature of this mechanism is that it allows the market to decide and encourage the lowest-cost compliance options.

How Does A Cap-And-Trade System Work? A cap-and-trade system harnesses human ingenuity in the pursuit of alternatives to carbon-based fuels. Market participants are allotted total permits equal to the cap on greenhouse gas emissions. If they can invent, improve, or acquire a way to reduce their emissions, they can sell their extra permits for cash. The profit motive will coordinate the efforts of venture capitalists, corporate planners, entrepreneurs, and environmentalists on the common motive of reducing emissions.

Obama and McCain agree on cap and trade. It just means you have to pay for how much emission you can put into the atmosphere. So, if you want to build an 1800's style coal plant, you'll go "bankrupt" because you won't be able to afford the emissions it produces. This "penalty" forces coal companies to be smarter, and creates an incentive for coal plants (and technology companies) to develop new technologies (like clean coal) to lower the emissions of their operation - if coal companies lower emissions, they don't have to pay a penalty for their operation, coal companies keep their profits, less emissions in the atmosphere, everybody wins. Its similar to requiring car manufacturers to build cars with a minimiun level of fuel efficiency. Yes, initially it penalizes car companies, and costs them more to develop, but its the way government regulates private companies for the common good and benefit of the public.

So, no, Obama doesn't want to bankrupt all coal companies anymore than McCain.

Pat Austin Becker said...

McCain hasn't advocated "price-fixing" as Obama has, nor has he advocated "bankrupting" businesses.

Their plans are not the same!

Anonymous said...

I don't need the right wing scare machine (Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, etc.) telling me why I need to be afraid of Obama. Obama, in his own words, is telling me why I need to be afraid of Obama.

I don't need to go to,, or, to get a better understanding on what this Obama is saying, his own words are plain enough for me.

RightinFlorida said...

No clean coal, no significant oil drilling, no nuclear. Hybrids, yes (but what to do with the used batteries and other components?). Obama is the man with the plan. But it must be bicycles.

Frankly I think 'cap and trade' is useless and a fraud waiting to happen. I'm not supportive of McCain on that. But his plan is different from Obama's.

Anonymous said...

I was listening to some of that right wing radio today and they were playing a tape from some Obama rally. Everyone was yelling, "Obama, Obama, Obama." It sounded like either a chant from a religious group of something that came out of a Hitler meeting. By the way that guy was a socilist to.

Anonymous said...

Story: The Drudge Report, FOX News and the McCain campaign are heavily hyping a 10-month-old audiotape of Obama speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle about his plan to limit carbon emissions. "So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can," Obama says. "It's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted.” Robocalls have already cropped up in Pennsylvania and Ohio and both McCain and Sarah Palin have slammed Obama on the stump.

Desired Effect: Convince economically-stressed voters in coal-producing states like West Virginia (leaning McCain), Ohio (tossup), and Pennsylvania (leaning Obama, and critical to the McCain campaign) that Obama wants to put them out of work.

Actual Effect: Too little, too late. Palin has claimed that the Chronicle suppressed the interview, but it's actually been available on the paper's web site since January. So the whole "conspiracy" angle loses a little bit of its urgency. What's more, Obama was merely reinforcing his long-held support for a mandatory cap on carbon emissions--a view shared by none other than John McCain. In fact, when McCain bravely (and rightly) proposed a bill designed to limit greenhouse-gas emissions in 2005, his Ohio colleague George Voinovich took to the floor to argue that the plan would "put coal out of business" and cost thousands of jobs. McCain's response? That his plan "would involve some sacrifice on the part of the American people."

So to say that Obama wants to "bankrupt" the entire coal industry is inaccurate--unless you say that McCain wants to do the same thing. The fact is, both candidates favor a system that makes constructing new coal plants that lack “clean coal technology”—i.e., carbon capture and sequestration technology—prohibitively expensive. But that doesn't mean that the old coal plants--or jobs--disappear. As Obama put it later in the same interview, "this notion of no coal, I think, is an illusion... What we have to do then is figure out how can we use coal without emitting greenhouse gases and carbon."

Mary Frances Archer said...

chanting the candidate's name at a political rally b/f the election sounds like a religous chant or a Hitler rally?

that is beyond ridiculous comparison - truly beyond

Anonymous said...

Dang Rick,
I'm not an Obama supporter, and yes the chants grate on me, too, but calling them "religious"
or "Hitleresque" chants is a little over the top.

Pat Austin Becker said...

The difference between McCain's plan and Obama's is that Obama is talking about bankrupting an entire American industry (HIS words) on the HOPE of developing new energy methods that does not yet exist (without more drilling, or nuclear, etc, with the added bonus of "skyrocketing" electricity costs. He's talking about PRODUCTIVE American companies - taxing them "into bankruptcy." His words.

McCain's plan is to use American resources to foster energy independence and cleaner energy sources. McCain's energy plan is much more realistic.

Anonymous said...

kind of different, but its mostly a matter of terminology, not policy. McCain and Obama's cap and trade proposals are pretty much the same, McCain just doesn't mention that, yes, you'll go bankrupt if you don't decrease emmissions. And, this isn't based on HOPE of developing new energy methods. If research and development of new energy technologies isn't funded/supported, we're all screwed. We have plenty of coal, its just too damaging as it currently exists.

And oil drilling is just a political gesture, not a real solution. One of Obama's best quotes of the campaign is, "we can't drill ourselves out of energy dependence"....we don't have enough oil to support ourselves. I know McCain says its a bridge, to bridge the gap til new technologies are created, but it seems pretty flimsy. Decreasing the cost of oil, by drilling domestic, doesn't address the problem of consumption. When oil prices are high we use less, when they're low we use more. America has proven that we need a real financial incentive to curb consumption, we don't care about the environment THAT much to just slow down on our own. That's why i like Obama's plan to provide incentives to auto companies to produce more energy-efficient vehicles and continue financial incentives to consumers to purchase them. McCain promotes similar incentives, so as far as i can tell, they both have a decent approach to the environment.

McCain's plan seems to be much more reliant on nuclear, which is not a bad idea, its just going ot take awhile to produce. Until, we figure out coal, and get everyone out of gas guzzlers, we're still going to be reliant on foreign oil.

Anonymous said...

I like what Obama said, and these are his own words, "Air up your tires, and we won't have to drill for oil."