Thanks to some good investigative work by NewsBusters, we now have the audio of a January, 2008 interview that Barack Obama gave to the San Francisco Chronicle in which he says he plans to bankrupt the coal industry and the majority of America’s electrical power generation. Both Barack Obama and Joe Biden have views about coal which should concern all Americans but which represent very substantial danger to several states, at least a few of which (Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Colorado) are critical in this week’s election.

Putting this in perspective for my state, Colorado, Obama’s view represents a serious threat and one which should cause all but the most partisan Democrats to reconsider any thought they might have had for voting for a president who clearly opposes capitalism and now clearly opposes affordable electricity.

Colorado is the nation’s 7th largest producer of coal and is rich in low-sulfur low-ash clean coal. Coal-fired power plants account for 72% of Colorado’s electric generation, according to 2007 statistics from the Colorado Mining Association.

A few more important statistics:

Colorado’s coal industry directly employs nearly 2,300 people at an average salary and benefits package of over $100,000, for total industry payroll and benefits of $228 million within the state. Colorado’s current coal industry employment is its highest in two decades, with the state having one of the country’s most efficient production rates.

The industry paid nearly $140 million more in taxes and royalties in 2007, for a total contribution to the coffers of citizens and government of over $356,000,000. The CMA notes that “more than half of Colorado’s share of federal mining royalties is paid to the state school fund and local school districts.”

And now we hear Barack Obama saying “If someone wants to build a coal-fired plant they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

Does he not realize that fully half of the nation’s electric power generation comes from coal-fired plants?

Share of Electric Power Sector Net Generation by Energy Source, 2005 vs. 2006?(Percent) Source: Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-906, “Power Plant Report.”

Does he not realize that the industry directly employs over 80,000 people in America, not to mention the massive indirect employment created for people who build and sell mining equipment or who own business in towns which are supported by spending from mine employees?

Coal is also a very fast-growing export, with the Department of Energy reporting that coal exports jumped almost 50% in the 2nd quarter of 2008 to 23 million short tons. “The US hasn’t exported anywhere near this amount since 1996.”

Obama’s running mate Joe Biden also said he opposes building any coal-fired power plants in America, including clean coal plants.

But this isn’t just a big issue for Colorado. It’s also a big issue for other major coal-producing states, at least two of which, Ohio and Pennsylvania, may play a crucial role in Tuesday’s election.

According to the American Coal Foundation there are more than 3,000 coal miners in Ohio, with “combined direct and indirect contributions of the coal industry to Ohio’s economy of more than $8 billion.” Pennsylvania employs more than 9,300 miners in over 300 mining locations, directly and indirectly contributing more than $10 billion to the state’s economy.

Barack and Obama dislike any source of energy which actually produces an important quantity of power for Americans. They hate oil, coal, and nuclear power, and are ambivalent at best about natural gas. What do they like? Wind farms and solar power which are pleasant “green” things to think about but which are far from being able to produce less than 1% of the nation’s energy combined and much of that in relatively inefficient small generation rather than the huge generating potential of traditionally-powered electrical plants.

The Department of Energy says that “coal-fired plants typically are more economical, and they account for 40 percent of (projected) total capacity additions from 2006 to 2030.” In other words, coal is not just cheaper now, it is expected to remain the most economical source of electric power for the nation for a generation or more and therefore shows nearly as large a projected gain in percentage terms as renewables and a massive gain in absolute terms compared to any other source in the DOE’s projected energy generation in 2030 as compared to 2006.

Indeed, even with all the hype about renewables changing the world, they are still expected to produce less power – with all renewable forms, including hydroelectric, combined – than either nuclear or natural gas powered electric plants generate today. And each of those is far less than half of the power generated by coal. If you take out conventional hydropower from the renewables category (since almost all the growth in the category is outside hydro), the power generated by the combination of wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal power generating systems will, in 2030, represent barely half of what either nuclear or natural gas generate today, and not even 1/8th of what coal will generate for the nation in 2030.

Unless Obama and Biden get their way, in which case I submit it is not possible for renewables to make up for the loss in power generation which the Democrats’ anti-energy platform, in service of their radical environmentalist donors, will cause.

With the recent economic crisis, people have temporarily forgotten about the recent spike in energy prices and what can happen if we do not ensure the most flexibility possible and most domestic production possible to generate America’s energy needs.

It is an interesting coincidence that Obama’s statement about wanting to bankrupt coal-fired power plants represents a grave threat to at least three of the most important states in this week’s election. But it represents more than that: It represents a threat to anyone, anywhere in America, who uses electricity. If you happen to fall into that category, Obama/Biden represent an almost certain increase in your cost of living, your cost of heating, of driving, of cooking, of absolutely anything that you can’t power by burning your own trees…and I’m sure they’ll try to stop that too.