On January 17, 2008, Obama told The San Francisco Chronicle he opposes coal-fired plants, which supply half of the nation’s electricity needs.
“… if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can,” Obama told the paper in January. “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."
Audio clips of Obama saying that were posted on YouTube over the weekend.
“What we have to do then is figure out how can we use coal without emitting greenhouse gases and carbon,” Obama told the Chronicle in the January 17 interview.
Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Colorado are major coal-producing states. Three of the four are swing states.
Obama’s running mate Joe Biden also has rejected coal as a source of electricity: “No coal plants here in America,” Biden told a woman in Ohio on Sept. 23, 2008. “Build them, if they’re going to build them, over there (in China). Make ‘em clean, because they’re killing you,” Biden said.
Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, campaigning in Ohio on Sunday, urged Americans to listen to Obama’s audio clip: "He said that, sure, if the industry wants to build coal-fired power plants, then they can go ahead and try, he says, but they can do it only in a way that will bankrupt the coal industry, and he's comfortable letting that happen. And you got to listen to the tape."
According to Palin, “In an Obama-Biden administration, there would be no use for coal at all, from Wyoming to Colorado, to West Virginia and Ohio.” Palin also questioned why the audiotape is surfacing so late in the campaign.
The Obama issued a statement saying, "the point Obama is making is that we need a transition from coal-burning power plants built with old technology to plants built with advanced technologies."
The Obama campaign says the Democratic presidential candidate wants to focus on clean-coal technology to reduce pollution from coal-fired power plants. But such technology is not yet available.
According to his campaign Web site, Obama would “ensure” that 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
He also would “implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.