Governors Talk Energy with Obama
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
President Obama on Wednesday (Feb. 3) told a group of 11 governors — including those from coal-friendly states — that the United States must move aggressively toward a clean energy economy.
In a meeting at the White House, Obama called for a series of steps to produce energy in more environmentally friendly ways, including a sharp increase in the production of ethanol and other biofuels and new technology that can store harmful carbon gases that now are emitted into the atmosphere when coal is burned. Those recommendations follow his State of the Union proposals last week for more nuclear power plants and offshore oil drilling.
"Mr. Obama's motives are environmental, economic and political," The New York Times said . "He is trying to address climate change by replacing dirty fuels with cleaner sources, jump-start an American clean-energy industry, reduce dependence on foreign oil and attract Republican votes for legislation to do all three."
Among the interesting subplots of Wednesday's meeting was the presence of governors from states -such as Kentucky and West Virginia — where coal remains king, and where efforts to move away from it have been viewed with skepticism.
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D), for example, used his state of the state speech on Jan. 13 to decry those who "want to villainize this resource that helped us win two world wars and built the greatest country in the world."
In his own state of the state speech on Jan. 6, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) said, "I will…continue to vigorously support the production of Kentucky coal to fuel this nation's industrial might."
Both Manchin and Beshear have said they are seeking ways to balance their states' economic and environmental needs.
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D), who also attended the meeting, could face her own quandary over energy, The Associated Press reported . Gregoire echoed Obama's call for more nuclear power plants, "a stance that could cause political headaches in her state," where environmentalists may put pressure on her, the AP reported.
Other governors who attended Wednesday's meeting include those from Alabama, Maine, Montana, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont and Wyoming.