Amanda Griscom Little interviews Barack as part of series on the environmental policies of presidential candidates. Here's an excerpt:
Q. How central will energy and the environment be to your campaign?
A. I consider energy to be one of the three most important issues that we are facing domestically, along with revamping our education system and reforming our health-care systems. The opportunities for significant change exist partly because the awareness of the threat of climate change has grown rapidly over the last couple of years. Al Gore deserves a lot of credit for that, as do environmental activists and outlets like Grist. People are ready to recognize the magnitude of the climate problem and take it on.
On the controversial issue of liquid coal, with southern Illinois being rich in coal deposits, Obama says:
Our original bill on coal-to-liquids -- which generated a lot of heat in the environmental community, no pun intended -- proposed $200 million for demonstration projects, to see where this technology might take us.
If the technology exists for us to use coal in a clean fashion, then that is something all of us should welcome, particularly because China and India are building coal-fired power plants at a rapid rate, and they likely have lifespans of several decades. Coal is a cheaper resource, and they're going to be figuring out a way to exploit it, so we should help to find technologies that will ensure that if it is used, it is used cleanly. The U.S. is recognized as the global leader in understanding better geologic coal-sequestration technologies. If we abandon that leadership, we risk leaving the rest of the planet wide open to investing billions in polluting infrastructure.But I stress again that my position has been consistent throughout: If we are using coal in the absence of these clean technologies, then we are going to be
And on nuclear power:
I think that with nuclear power, we have got to see if there are ways for us to store the radioactive material in a safe, environmentally sound way, and if we can do that and deal with the some of the safely and security issues, [nuclear power] is something that we should look at.
Note that Illinois has made huge investments in nuclear power and has the largest nuclear industry in the nation.