Some politicians seem to change their stances on issues more often than supermodels change outfits. Former vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is one of these individuals. Unbelievable in 2019, Biden once attacked the late John McCain for not supporting coal. Now, the former vice president wants to “eliminate” coal entirely.
The 2020 Democratic presidential contender proclaimed to a West Virginia audience, made up of union workers, towards the end of the 2008 presidential contest that he and then-candidate Barack Obama would benefit the coal industry more than Republican presidential nominee John McCain.
Biden stated, “Ladies and gentleman, John McCain does not believe that clean coal is part of our future.” Quoting a statement McCain had made, the former vice president remarked, “’in a perfect world we’d like to transition away from coal entirely.’ That does not sound like a guy who is attacking us, saying ‘we’re not for clean coal.’”
As reinforcement for his argument, the former vice president commented that McCain and his running mate, then-Governor Sarah Palin, had neglected mine employees and Appalachia due to their support of tax cuts for oil companies. This move was seen as a tactic that would enhance petroleum production while harming the coal industry.
Biden remarked, “So John, if you’re listening, stop this malarkey about who’s for clean coal. … Look, Barack and I believe that clean coal is part of our energy future, a necessary part, and also a great export capacity.”
Breitbart News reported that “Biden proceeded to cite instances where he and Obama had voted to appropriate more funding for clean coal technology, including ‘carbon sequestration,’ so ‘we can use coal more and use it more friendly.’ Such technology, he claimed, would help ‘create American jobs’ when exported to other countries.”
The former vice president maintained, “China is building one coal-fired plant a week, it’s a dirty plant, they’ve got three hundred years of dirty coal. We can turn from a liability to an asset, we can actually develop technology … and export it, create American jobs and help them make the environment … a lot cleaner. This should be a win-win situation, folks.”
Interestingly, before Biden signed on to become Obama’s running mate, he had contended that there wasn’t “much of a role for clean coal in energy independence.”
But, at this particular 2008 campaign stop, he accused McCain and Palin of desiring to ship the nation’s “energy dollars” to oil-rich countries abroad. Biden stated, “This is what we should be doing, investing in this technology, instead of pouring our energy dollars into the sands of Saudi Arabia and the pockets of Venezuela. We should be exporting homemade technology … we should become the engine of change.”
When Biden made his speech about coal in West Virginia, Democrats were reportedly trying to thwart Republican attacks stemming from a gaffe the former vice president had made earlier in 2008. According to Breitbart News, “In an interaction captured on video and quickly incorporated into attacks ads, Biden was ambushed by an environmentalist while campaigning in Ohio and asked about his and Obama’s support for ‘clean coal.’”
The video shows the ever shifting Biden saying, “We’re not supporting clean coal.” He added, “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.”
Pressed by the environmentalist, the former vice president shared that it was more advantageous for coal plants to be located anywhere except for “here in America” if they had to exist. Biden commented, “China is burning three hundred 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’re going to build them over there, make them clean because they’re killing you.”
Because Obama was trying to make “clean coal” a top issue is his campaign, Biden’s remarks instantly caused a stir. According to Breitbart News, “The Obama campaign attempted to do damage control by claiming that Biden’s comments were being taken out of context for political points.”
In the most recent Democratic presidential debate, Biden seemed to suggest he would like to ban coal and fracking altogether if he’s elected president. When asked if coal would have any place in his administration, the former vice president stated, “We would make sure it’s eliminated, and no more subsidies for either one of those, any fossil fuel.”
So, during the 2008 presidential election cycle, Biden appeared to be against “clean coal” before being for it. Now, he’s allegedly against it again. Who knows, next week it might be a priority of his campaign.