ABC News’ Imtiyaz Delawala and Matt Jaffe report: Gov. Sarah Palin distorted rival vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden’s position on clean coal technology in his hometown of Scranton, Pa., today, inaccurately charging that Biden has said "there’s no such thing as clean coal," while continuing to question Biden’s support for the use of the technology in the United States.
At a rally in Scranton today — at the same location that Biden had campaigned with Sen. Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton on Sunday — Palin spoke extensively about clean coal technology, a critical issue in a region searching for new sources of employment in a struggling economy. Clean coal technology refers to removing impurities and carbon dioxide gases from coal to make its mining more environmentally friendly — a still unproven technology that may have the potential to create new jobs as the U.S. seeks to reduce dependence on foreign sources of energy.
"So whether Joe Biden approves it or not, John McCain is going to develop clean coal technology here in America, and we’ll be looking to the good people of Pennsylvania to help us meet that goal," Palin said to strong applause and chants, of "Sarah, Sarah" from the crowd. "Our plan for clean coal is gonna create over 30,000 new jobs where they’re needed most — places like Ohio and West Virginia, and right here in Pennsylvania.”
"Now Joe Biden has said that there’s no such thing as clean coal, when we talk about clean coal technology that’s needed," Palin said, drawing strong boos from the crowd. "He said as a matter of fact that, even if there were clean coal that in an Obama administration it would be fine if say China used it but it wouldn’t be used here at home. Now that’s nonsense."
Palin was referring to comments that Biden made in Maumee, Ohio, in September when the Democratic vice presidential candidate was asked while shaking hands with supporters why he supported clean coal, when wind and solar power are available.
"We’re not supporting clean coal," Biden said. "Guess what? China is building two every week, two dirty coal plants. And it’s polluting the United States, it’s causing people to die … China’s gonna burn 300 years of bad coal unless we figure out how to clean their coal up because it’s gonna ruin your lungs and there’s nothing we can do about it."
"No coal plants here in America!" Biden continued. "Build ‘em, if they’re gonna build ‘em, over there and make ‘em clean because they’re killing ya."
Biden was criticized for the comments given their inconsistency with his past statements on the issue, as well as the stated position of his running mate Sen. Barack Obama in support of clean coal technology. Biden, however, has never said that clean coal technology does not exist. And at the vice presidential debate between Biden and Palin earlier this month, Biden attempted to clarify his position in support of the technology.
“My record for 25 years has supported clean coal technology," Biden said. "A comment made in a rope line was taken out of context. I was talking about exporting that technology to China so when they burn their dirty coal, it won’t be as dirty, it will be clean.”
In St. Clairsville, Ohio, today, Biden again touted his support for clean coal technology.
“This is not rocket-science,” Biden said. “Coal, coal is part of our energy future, man. We have enormous reserves. Right now every single week in China they build a dirty coal plant that pollutes the West Coast of the United States of America and the environment. We can provide clean coal technology, not only exporting that technology and our coal, we can sell that technology, creating jobs to China, to India."
"This should be a win-win for us, if we just get off, off of being so beholden to big oil," Biden added.