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That Ridiculous Obama/mccain Coal Dustup

Andy Revkin has a good summary of the last gasp of inanity from this campaign season (as seen on Drudge for the past day and a half)—namely, the charge by the McCain-Palin campaign that Obama wants to "bankrupt" the coal industry. Here's what this whole "controversy" comes down to: Yes, under Obama's cap-and-trade proposal, it will eventually become impossible to build a traditional dirty coal-fired plant as the cap gets more stringent; you'd have to pay more for CO2 emissions permits than you'd make selling the electricity. Hence, bankruptcy. And that's as it should be: As James Hansen notes in his new draft paper, the world needs to phase out dirty coal-fired plants by 2030 or we're going to face an unacceptably high risk of catastrophic global warming. Now, maybe the coal industry will adapt by figuring out how to sequester emissions from coal-fired plants at a reasonable price, and it'll keep chugging along. Otherwise, it'll die off, like other obsolete industries before it.

What makes this all especially asinine is that John McCain also nominally supports a (flimsier) cap-and-trade regime that would basically lead to the same scenario. Sigh. Only one day left...

--Bradford Plumer