President Obama's re-election team has quietly added a clean coal section to its campaign website amid complaints from Republicans about its absence.
Industry leaders have for months been chafing that the president failed to mention coal as part of his calls for an all-of-the-above energy strategy.
Now the website includes a list of energy priorities, including "clean coal." It says, "President Obama has set a 10-year goal to develop and deploy cost-effective clean coal technology."
"The Recovery Act invested substantially in carbon capture and sequestration research," it adds, "including 22 projects across four different areas of carbon capture-and-storage research and development."
Evan Tracey, communications senior vice president for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, welcomed the change.
"We're glad the Obama campaign finally included clean coal in its 'all of the above' energy strategy, but the President's commitment to coal needs to be more than just a talking point," he said in a statement, urging the administration to reconsider "expensive and heavy handed" regulations.
During a congressional hearing earlier this week, Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), a top House Energy and Commerce Committee member, displayed a picture of the website sans coal.
"I was looking at President Obama's website the other day on his campaign, and I was actually disturbed by it," he told the audience. "Now there's one glaring absence, and that is coal.
"Many of us get upset about that because it has a tremendous economic impact on our country," Whitfield said. "It provides a lot of jobs, and it makes us competitive in the global marketplace because coal is still a valuable resource."
The president appears to have a difficult relationship with coal. His administration has moved to beef up environmental controls for mining and power plant emissions. At the same time, it continues to approve major coal mining leases on public lands, to the ire of environmentalists.
Obama's fiscal 2013 budget blueprint recommended cuts to clean coal research as part of the overall federal effort to trim spending. Congress, however, appears poised to bypass at least some of those cuts (Greenwire, April 27).
Carbon capture technology will be an essential part of building future coal-fired power plants under U.S. EPA's emissions control proposals. But environmentalists, rejecting the very idea of clean coal, would rather see research funding go to renewable technologies like wind and solar (Greenwire, May 2).
A new report by the Worldwatch Institute, a sustainability group, said global funding for carbon capture and sequestration remained unchanged in 2011 at $23.5 billion. It said that of the dozens of projects around the globe, only eight are operational.