President Obama has demonstrated his hate of the coal industry before by declaring his intention to bankrupt it. However, for the moment, he is unable to attack the domestic coal industry like his fellow Democrats in Congress would like, given that their efforts would only kill thousands more jobs if they could get their way. And given the current recession, job destruction will just hurt them that much more come election time in November.
This however, does not stop the Obama Administration from attacking the coal industry abroad. And leave it to Obama's team of activist advisors to find a way how to do it, by coming out against coal fired power plants in the third world.
NEW DELHI: Close on the heels of the inconclusive end to the Copenhagen Accord, the US government has stepped up pressure on the World Bank not to fund coal-fired power plants in developing countries.In a letter sent to the World Bank, a copy of which is with TOI, United States Executive Director Whitney Debevoise said, "The Obama Administration believes that the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) have a potentially critical role to play in the future international framework for climate finance, and, in particular, to assist developing countries in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening their economies' resilience to climate risks.'' - The Times of India
This is a pretty big F.U. to the third world, which were pretty big supporters of the President. I am not sure what they were expecting to get from him, other than to make them feel better. One way to make their lives better is to give them power. With that comes communication, light and refrigeration with will improve the quality of life as well as extend the working day. Obama however plans to make it much harder to develop the third world by taking away their most likely source of power, coal.
For starters, coal is the mail source of fuel for power plants in the US. Much US electricity is made using coal power. Take a look at this Electricity Flow diagram for 2007. Coal is the largest fuel source for electricity production. Remember that it is domestic and not imported coal.
Coal is not simply chosen as a fuel source for any old reason. It is chosen because often it is the only viable choice to make. The other main choice also a fossil fuel, being natural gas. Gas is much greener than the others, but as for actual 'green' choices, most locations have none. Really, unless a region has a viable location to place a dam for hydro power, then they have no green options. There is nuclear, but I do not see the US being real excited about building nuke plants throughout the third world. (The sliver on the bottom left is the contribution that renewable energy makes in powering America.)
So is the Obama Administration fighting to keep the world's poor in the dark? It sure looks that way. And that is a shame as giving the poor power is one of the major requirements for getting people out of poverty and countries into the modern world.
There is one more thing to keep in mind:
* The U.S. is, after all, the Saudi Arabia of coal. We have more than 200 years of coal reserves at our current burn rate. There are 440 coal-fired plants across the nation, with proposals to build 153 more in 42 states over the next decade, at a cost of $137 billion, to provide electricity to 93 million homes and support our energy-guzzling lifestyles. - Time
So, not only can the US help modernize the third world by helping to give them power and light. The US can also profit in the process. This way, everyone wins.
This is poor policy. Instead of cutting off coal, the US should strive to make coal greener. At least until there are some viable alternatives to choose from. At the moment there are none and that means that the world's poorest are left sitting in the dark.