By now, most people know about Secretary Hillary Clinton’s recent campaign gaffe that “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
Lacking the usual political-speak, her comments were all the more surprising in that they were not made at a fundraiser in Tom Steyer’s San Francisco living room. They were made in Ohio—coal country, where coal production in 2015 was down 22 percent—at a nationally televised CNN town hall and just hours before the state’s primary election.
US News reports that Democrats in the coal states have tried to “distance themselves from Clinton’s comments.” Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, a Clinton ally who handily won his party’s primary election for senator, called her slip, “unartful.” Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who, last April, endorsed Clinton, took issue with her comments and contacted her campaign.
Facing the backlash, Clinton sent a letter to Manchin: “Simply put, I was mistaken.”
But was she? I don’t think so.
Though her comments may have been “unartful” and, arguably, poorly timed, I believe they reflect private conversations and campaign strategy. It may be no coincidence that rumors of President Obama’s tepid support for Clinton—though the White House denies endorsing her—surfaced after her killing coal comments.
Clinton needs President Obama’s endorsement. She needs him to generate excitement for her lackluster campaign.
He also needs her—his legacy hangs on her election. Because so much of what he’s done has been by executive action, his legacy can just as easily be undone—as every remaining Republican candidate would likely do. Obama is, reportedly, committed to “a hard campaign of legacy preservation.”
Following the voluntary climate agreement in Paris, Politico stated: “Barack Obama wants to be remembered as the president who saved the world from climate change.” For this legacy to stick, all of his anti-fossil fuel policies must stay intact.
While Obama frequently claims to support an “all of the above” energy policy, actions speak louder than words. From his 2009 stimulus bill throwing billions at speculative green energy projects, his killing coal efforts, his stand that we can’t drill our way to low gas prices, his rejection of the Keystone pipeline, his threat to veto a bill to lift the oil export ban, and flipping on Atlantic oil exploration—just to name a few—he obviously meant “none of the below.”
Clinton’s anti-coal comments got all the press. But she didn’t stop there. Almost under her breath, a few sentences later, she added: “We’ve got to move away from coal and all of the other fossil fuels.”
But how realistic is the Democrat’s goal of moving away from coal and all the other fossil fuels?
“Unlikely,” according to new research from the University of Chicago. The authors wanted a different answer. Like Clinton, and Obama, they believe fossil fuel use is driving “disruptive climate change” that will lead to “dramatic threats to human well-being” and a “dystopian future.” Reading the 22 pages of the report on their findings, one can almost feel their dismay.
Yet, after discussing “supply theory”—which posits the world will run out of inexpensive fossil fuels—they state: “If the past 35 years is any guide, not only should we not expect to run out of fossil fuels anytime soon, we should not expect to have less fossil fuels in the future than we do now.”
Then, on “demand theory”—the economy will stop demanding fossil fuels as alternatives become more cost competitive—they lament: “In the medium-run of the next few decades, none of these alternatives seem to have the potential based on their production costs (that is without the government policies to raise the costs of carbon emissions) to reduce the use of fossil fuels below these projections.”
While the authors support “activist and aggressive policy choices…to drive reductions in the consumption of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions,” they reluctantly admit the proposed solutions are not apt to be the answer they seek. “Even if countries were to enact policies that raised the cost of fossil fuels, like a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, history suggests that technology will work in the opposite direction by reducing costs of extracting fossil fuels and shifting their supply curves out.”
Perhaps, before Clinton—who accuses anyone who doesn’t agree with her climate alarmist view as ignoring the science—makes mistakes, like declaring that she’ll put coal miners and coal companies out of business, she should check the science behind her claims to “move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels.”
Making her March 13 comments seem even more foolish, the following days cast a shadow over the specter of funding more speculative solar power, as she’s proposed to do. Three stimulus-funded solar failures made big headlines: the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, SunEdison, and Abengoa.
It appears Clinton’s energy policies are aimed at trying to make winners out of losers. How can she help it? That is what the Democrat Party is trying to do with her.
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.