After a disappointing showing in West Virginia, where President Obama received only 59 percent of the vote against a prison inmate in the Democratic primary, the president's reelection team decided to highlight the importance of coal (or clean coal, to be exact) on its website. (West Virginia is a major mining state.) Well, the Obama team has had problems with coal in the past.
In the 2008 election, Vice President Joe Biden admitted that Obama-Biden platform did not support coal plants in America:
Biden was asked, "Wind and solar are flourishing here in Ohio, so why are you supporting clean coal?"
The future vice president responded: "We’re not supporting clean coal. Guess what, China is building two every week. Two dirty coal plants. And it’s polluting the United States, it’s causing people to die."
The questioner followed up, "So will you support wind and solar technologies?"
Absolutely," Biden said. "Before anyone did. The first guy to introduce a global warming bill was me, 22 years ago. The first guy to support solar energy was me, 26 years ago, it came out of Delaware. But guess what? China’s going to burn 300 years of bad coal unless we figure out how to clean their coal up because it’s going to ruin your lungs and there’s nothing we can do about it. No coal plants here in America. Build them, if they are going to build them over there, make them clean, because they’re killing you."
Before this exchange, however, in 2007, Biden admitted that his biggest concern is "Air that has too much coal in it." Biden ranked coal ahead of terrorism in terms what poses the greatest threat to Americans.
Biden was asked, "Senator Biden, forgetting about the upcoming Iowa caucus for just a moment, which would you honestly say is more likely to contribute to the death of your average American: a terrorist strike or high-fructose corn syrup and air that has too much coal in it?"
He responded, "Air that has too much coal in it, corn syrup next, then a terrorist attack. But that is not in any way to diminish the fact that a terrorist attack is real. It is not an existential threat to bringing down the country, but it does have the capacity, still, to kill thousands of people. But hundreds of thousands of people die and their lives are shortened because of coal plants, coal-fired plants and because of corn syrup."