Clean Coal? — Gillian Caldwell Engages President Obama
On Thursday night, February 5, Gillian Caldwell went to hear what President Obama had to say at a Gen44 event organized by the Democratic National Committee.
Caldwell, the campaign director for 1Sky, a prominent climate action group based in Takoma Park, Maryland got more than the chance to hear the president.
“I happened to catch President Obama on a rope line,” she wrote in an email message to climate activists over the weekend, “and decided on the fly to challenge him on the mythology of clean coal since our base has been so concerned about his repeated calls for clean coal — and nuclear and oil drilling — alongside real renewable energy solutions.”
The encounter was memorably captured on an iPhone. Caldwell also produced the transcript below, on this page after the video.
We shake hands, I grab President Obama’s hands with both of mine and look him straight in the eye:
Gillian Caldwell: “It’s got to be renewable energy. No more clean coal.”[Inaudible: It’s a unicorn. It doesn’t exist.]
Obama: “I disagree with you. I disagree with you. We are not going to get all our energy from wind and solar in the next 20 years…”
Gillian Caldwell: Let the market do it. Let the market do it. Can’t the market make the investment? [Inaudible: It’s hundreds of billions of dollars (we’d be investing in “clean coal” in the House version of the bill)]
Obama: They can’t do it. The technology’s not there. I’ve got a nuclear physicist in my Department of Energy who cares more about climate change than anyone and he will tell you you can’t get it done just with that — so you’ve got to have a transition period to do all this other stuff. Don’t be stubborn about it!
Gillian Caldwell: It’s about getting the votes [inaudible: in Congress isn’t it?]
Obama: This is not a votes matter. This is a technological matter. It really is. I have looked into it.
Gillian Caldwell: We’re running a national campaign and people are really upset about this.
Obama: I know everybody’s….listen, if I could do it all with wind and solar I would! We can ramp it up. That’s what we’re working on.
Read more about the encounter — and 1Sky’s perspective on “clean coal” — at 1Sky’s blog.