Stimulus Debate Could Clarify How Much Obama Supports 'Clean Coal'

The coal industry wants the bill to revive a massive "clean coal" plant project in Illinois.

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More generally, the industry is emphasizing scale in its pitches to Congress: It wants Washington to make a larger, broader commitment to developing carbon capture and storage technology. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity recently put out a list of 80 carbon capture and storage projects—some commercial scale, some research oriented—that it says are underway in the United States, and stressed hope for additional investment. Obama appears to be considering it. "What I heard before and after the election is that Obama would like to build five clean-coal demonstration projects," says Gonet. "That would be great."

Business and labor leaders, noting that about half the country's electricity comes from coal and that the industry employs large numbers of workers, are also pushing for coal perks in the stimulus. "We need to invest large sums of money in exploring carbon capture and sequestration," says Mark Ayers, president of the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department. "Some people say coal has to go away. But coal cannot go away."

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