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Editorial comment

It seems that President Obama is now a fan of coal. Noting the importance of coal as a source of high-paying jobs and low cost energy, last month the president announced the creation of a new task force to speed up the commercial development and deployment of clean coal technologies (see p. 5). He also set a goal of bringing five to ten carbon capture and storage (CCS) commercial demonstration projects online by 2016.

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This is a welcome move. Coal is and will remain a vital source of cheap, secure energy – not only in the US, but across the globe. But it is also a move that should have come sooner. Europe and China currently lead the world in developing clean coal technologies and, up to now, the US has seemed content to let this happen. By creating this new task force, the president puts the US firmly back in the race – a good thing for those who want to see this technology developed quicker.

It also makes good economic sense. A recent study commissioned by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity found that, within the next decade, the American taxpayer could see a US$ 111 billion return on federal investment in clean coal technology.1 This supports an emerging expert consensus that clean coal is not only good for the environment, but good for the economy too.

President Obama’s support will hopefully spur on the development of clean coal technologies, not only in the US but around the world. But it’s only a first step: proof of the pudding always comes with the eating. For now, however, the president is to be congratulated.

As well as the announcement of the new task force, the president also renewed his support for carbon cap-and-trade, stating that ultimately it is this that will provide the largest incentive for CCS. On this theme, this month’s World Coal takes an in depth look at the international carbon market with a special feature on carbon trading. We also look ahead to bauma, at which World Coal will be exhibiting (Hall C2, Stand 210B). It would be great to see you there!

1. Benefits of Investments in Clean Coal Technology, (American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity/Management Information Services Inc., October 2009), p. v.