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GOP move to emphasize 'clean' coal in party platform draws jabs

TheRepublican National Committee this week voted to return the word"clean" to the discussion of the need for coal in the party'splatform, following an absence ahead of the last presidential election.

Proposedby party delegate David Barton of Texas, the addition marks a modest, butnotable change from the party's previous defense of coal in its officialplatform.

"Texas,unknown to most, is a very high coal producing state — we have a lot of coalresources," Barton said. "I would insert the adjective 'clean' alongwith coal, particularly because the technology we have now so 'the DemocratParty does not understand that coal is an abundant, clean, affordable, reliabledomestic energy resource,'" he said in defense of the amendment, whichpassed with no objection.

Theaddition echoes the party's presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, who has advocated "cleancoal" use in campaign speeches.

"Iwant clean coal, and we're going to have clean coal and we're going to haveplenty of it. We're going to have great, clean coal. We're going to have anamazing mining business," Trump said, according to the Associated Press.

Whilethe GOP has not released a full draft of the platform, the technology mentionedby Barton likely refers to carbon capture and storage, as well as other effortsaimed at reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Thefinancial and logistical viability of those efforts has emerged as a point ofcontention among industry advocates, environmental groups and even between somefederal agencies.

Doubtsabout the effectiveness of "clean coal" technology spurred a dismissivereaction to the amendment from John Coequyt, the Sierra Club's Global ClimatePolicy Director.

"Inthe absurd, alternative reality in which this Republican platform is beingdrafted, unicorns exist, the moon is made of cheese, and coal is somehowclean," Coequyt said. "Reading it and taking it seriously is the samething as reading a Harry Potter book, grabbing a broom, and heading to yourroof — both entail losing touch with basic science and common sense, and willresult in avoidable catastrophe."

The inclusionof the word "clean" differs from the 2012 Republican platform, whichincluded a focus on the importance of coal in the country's energy mix and therole of "advanced technologies" in creating "low-cost,environmentally responsible, and efficient" power, but stopped short ofusing the word "clean."

However,in its 2008 platform, the RNC dedicated a separate section to "clean coal,"in a discussion about "America's most affordable and abundant energyresource and the source of most of our electricity."

Whilethe platform committee debated a number of issues that could peripherallyimpact coal production in the U.S., including the handling of public lands andendangered species, there was no further discussion of the industry when the amendmentwas passed on July 11.

Theplatform will be voted on during the Republican Party's national convention inCleveland, Ohio, which begins July 18. The party does not intend to release adraft of the platform prior to the party vote.

Whenreached for comment on the platform language, a spokeswoman for the AmericanCoalition for Clean Coal Electricity told S&P Global Market Intelligencethat it was the first they had heard of Barton's effort, but they were"good" with the platform.

Bartoncould not be reached for further comment.