Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obama and the Coal Industry

Obama heralds from a state with some of the largest coal reserves in the entire world. However, he appears to be reluctant to tap into these resources for fear of increasing carbon emissions and greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

Here's a video that explains his reluctance: Video of Obama's Bankrupting Coal Industry Remarks

Here's audio and a partial transcript of the same interview: Audio: Obama Tells SF Chronicle He Will Bankrupt Coal Industry

Here's what he said on January 17, 2008:

"Let me sort of describe my overall policy.
What I've said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else's out there.
I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.
So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted."

Here are 5 year stock charts from three of the largest coal producing companies in the world:
Consol Energy Inc.

Peabody Energy

Arch Coal

Oh, And for good measure, here's the Dow Jones:

Coal and coal fire power plants are a wonderful source of relatively cheap energy. Our competing super power (China) already "uses more coal than the United States, the European Union and Japan combined. And it has increased coal consumption 14 percent in each of the past two years in the broadest industrialization ever. Every week to 10 days, another coal-fired power plant opens somewhere in China that is big enough to serve all the households in Dallas or San Diego. Source: New York Times

America's population and energy needs increase every year. Looking at these charts, they reflect an increase in energy demand and production, each peaking in June 2008 and then falling off sharply. Did the demand (and the future of the coal business) really decrease that much in June 2008?

Coincidence? Obama was nominated by the Democratic party in June 2008. Campaign Timeline

To a knowlegable coal investor, Obama's nomination would have signaled increased risk that tighter restrictions may be coming and coal demand would fall if Obama were elected. Note that the dow didn't crash until three months later (apparently as a result of freddie and fannie - More on that here.).

I wonder. How much of the economic collapse had to to with politics?

I wonder. What will Obama do to help his home state achieve it's energy and economic needs while keeping his environmentalist supporters happy?

Listening to his statements above, one can draw their own conclusions.

Who he chooses for energy secretary will say a lot: Possible nominees for Obama's energy secretary

It will also be interesting to see what the future holds for FutureGen under the Obama administration:

My bet is that the Obama administration will throw a ton of federal dollars at the FutureGen project. If you can figure out a way to make money off of FutureGen, it may be time to get into the game now.

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