February 3rd, 2010
04:35 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama announces 'clean coal' task force


A coal scraper machine works on a pile of coal in West Virginia. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama announced Wednesday he is forming a task force to oversee how the United States can "deploy affordable clean coal technology on a widespread scale within 10 years."

At a meeting with governors from both parties and senior Cabinet members, including Vice President Joe Biden, Obama said he believes that taking the global lead on developing technology to remove carbon pollutants from coal-fired energy production is vital for future economic prosperity.

Goals of the task force include having 10 commercial power plants with clean-coal technology operating as demonstration projects by 2016, Obama said.

"If we can develop the technology to capture the carbon pollution released by coal, it can create jobs and provide energy well into the future," he told reporters.

The initiative is part of a set of moderate energy policies outlined by Obama in his State of the Union speech last week and expanded on Wednesday.

He re-emphasized his strong support for developing alternative clean energy sources to fossil fuels such as oil and coal as a way to both reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change and build U.S. economic growth. He called such a strategy smart policy in a world still dependent on fossil fuels but trying to shift to new alternatives.

The United States will continue to use coal as an energy source for years to come, the president said, while emerging economies such as China are building new coal-fired plants to meet their expanding energy needs. With the world also focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal energy and other sources, developing technology to remove carbon pollution from coal plant emissions makes sense, he said.

He acknowledged that some people remain skeptical that climate change is an immediate threat, saying: "Climate change is one of the reasons why we have to pursue a clean energy agenda, but it's not the only reason, so even if you don' t believe in the severity of climate change as I do, you still should want to pursue this agenda."

Other aspects of what Obama called a non-ideological energy policy included expanded use of nuclear energy, more offshore drilling for oil and natural gas, and increased emphasis on developing clean energy alternatives.

"We can't afford to spin our wheels while the rest of the world speeds ahead," he said.

In a briefing with reporters after Obama's meeting with the governors, Cabinet secretaries outlined other steps announced Wednesday, including a report by a biofuel task force set up previously that outlines the plan for meeting a goal of producing 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022.

The biofuel task force plan upgrades the status of corn ethanol as a clean energy source, with the goal of attracting more investment into corn ethanol production, said Lisa P. Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Filed under: Energy • President Obama
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. m smith

    way to go mr president.

    February 3, 2010 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  2. gary davis harbor oregon

    coal burnimg plants need to instal more than one ESP after the fire box . and air heater ,plus one more set of twerlers to defuse the air and particulate flow . going into the first ESP problem solved + reinject the ash into the burn box 🙂 clean coal energy
    your welcome ask any time

    February 3, 2010 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  3. Four and The Door

    Clean coal absolutely can be done. And we absolutely should be the ones to do it. This would be a worthwhile endeavor.

    But it's not going to make the far left happy. Too bad. This is better use of our resources than for instance the $60 billion a year we are blowing on Medicare fraud. Not like we'll ever get that back, though.

    February 3, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  4. Lilarose in United States of China

    All they ever do about "progress" is yap-yap-yap.

    Any progress in the United States of America takes so long that other countries are far ahead in technology.

    We are slip-sliding into being a third world country.

    February 3, 2010 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  5. gary davis harbor oregon

    plus if every dam that hold back water for a tirbine actually was being used in this country and not bypassing the penstocks to the rivers below we would have a great deal of electricity . more than we need but then the price of power would go down .. not going to happen .
    but by building more wind , solar, and hydro , geo thermal plants it puts america back to work . also coal is the cheapest fuel . its home grown ,next is hydro , after the dam and the turbins are paid for ver little maintenance is needed other than exercising the 11 foot diameter valves . the pemstocks turn the generators hence power is made from water being held back by a dam , also used for flood control and recreation , and farming . and salmon spawning . cold water from the base of the dam keeping the eggs cool 🙂

    February 3, 2010 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |

    I worked in a coal mine for a while. We used to dump 5 gallons of used oil from the machinery on the ground in the mine every night. All kinds of waste, parts, chemicals, etc.. were left in the mine, just to get the coal. The coal seams are getting smaller and smaller all of the time. Mines are shutting down because it is unprofitable and UNSAFE to try to get the coal. Every time I see these clean coal comercials on TV, it MAKES ME WANT TO PUKE!

    Move on to better technologies!!

    February 3, 2010 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  7. mimi

    I guess if you need job instead of your extended unemployment check you are not instrested in clean coal,health care,grandkid in a war zone,fighting for you freedom.I pay youfor you right now but you whine about it

    February 3, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  8. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Ask any Republican or Democrat how much oil supply is left in the Middle East to supply our demand. You better wakeup out there people and don't wait on the Saudis or anybody else to tell you they are dried up but we can sell you a barrell of oil at $200/barrell. Wakeup America and President Obama is trying his best to open your mind and stop waiting to hear what's next coming from Repugs.

    February 3, 2010 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  9. m smith

    anyone who listened to the president prior to his election knows he said he would look into clean coal. He has not done a turn around you numnut. He is not avoiding any issue either. Running a country requires you do a multiple of things . He can still focus on the economy. He multi tasks each day something Im sure the repos know nothing about. Most of these comments are better suited for fox so i wonder why you all even bother writting here? Someone mentiond more government employees. Well thats more jobs.THe party of no should be happy aren't they pushing coal as an energy source. Let's see how they change this to a big fat NO

    February 3, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  10. leftisloony

    clean coal; a smokestack pipe dream, not gonna happen.....

    cost efficient solar, wind, batteries, etc.; not gonna happen.....soon anyway

    the fact is that our society has spent the last one hundred years developing our economy, culture, our 'way of life' based on cheap oil.......

    to think that we're going to suddenly wean ourselves off oil is ludicrous...
    to not build nuclear power plants or not drill for our own oil and natural gas is suicidal and simply an attempt to appease the loony environmentalists that exert way too much influence on our energy policy........it takes years to do the above and we're running out of time and people tend to get real ugly when the electricity goes out and there's no gas available..........i propose a vote for drilling...........

    those that oppose drilling should be the first to give up driving and electricity.......i hear bicycling is very healthy and lanterns and candles are great to read by..........have a nice day

    February 3, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  11. bennie new york

    This would be a huge waste of money. Clean coal is a sham- it's nothing but a marketing ploy from Big Coal to keep their industry alive.

    February 3, 2010 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  12. Michele

    There is no CLEAN coal technology. They tried to sell that here in MI recently, and we fought back with facts and figures. They are now looking elsewhere.

    February 3, 2010 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  13. stephen Pagnozzi

    I'd like to applaud the President on almost every aspect of his administration. He gets an A+ for trying at least, considering the sad shape this country is in. However, on this particular subject, In my humble opinion, There was no such thing as "clean coal" , there is no "clean coal" and there never will be clean coal!" I am deeply disappointed with this. I know its going to take years before solar and wind have a huge bite of our energy use, but we must take this opportunity to aggressively go after these technologies. Please, NO more fossil fuels!!! thanks. Steve

    February 3, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  14. Tina

    There is no such thing as clean coal. If it costs $300 a month to heat your house now, it will cost $3000 a month to heat your house with clean coal. What we need is nuclear energy. It is the cleanest, most reasonably priced energy available.

    February 3, 2010 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
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