RFK Jr. Blasts Obama as 'Indentured Servant' to Coal Industry

Critics call clean coal project a boondoggle and a "dirty lie".

ByABC News
April 21, 2009, 2:34 PM

April 21, 2009— -- "Clean coal is a dirty lie," says environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who calls President Barack Obama and other politicians who commit taxpayer money to develop it "indentured servants" of the coal industry.

Click here to read more of Brian Ross' interview with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on the issue of clean coal.

Despite a series of expensive false starts and failures, President Obama proposed $3.4 billion in stimulus legislation to fund continued research on "clean coal" projects.

"Clean coal is like healthy cigarettes, it does not exist," says former Vice President Al Gore.

The coal industry has been running a multi-million dollar advertising blitz to promote the theory that coal can be made clean, using one of Obama's campaign speeches in its television commercials.

Click here to see the coal industry's commercials featuring President Obama.

"You can't tell me we can't figure out a way to burn coal that we mine right here in the United States and make it work," says Obama in the commercial, which ends with on-screen words: Yes We Can.

The "clean coal" theory is that coal's dangerous global warming gas, carbon dioxide, can be captured and sent by pipeline to be buried deep in the earth.

"It is the dirtiest of all fuels that we know of," said Bruce Nilles of the Sierra Club, which says talk of "clean coal" is designed to put off efforts to wean the country off coal.

"Today in the United States, most of the pollution is coming from coal burning power plants," said Nilles.

After 24 years and billions of dollars spent trying, there is still no operating coal power plant using "clean coal" technology.

"How many such plants are there?" asked former Vice President Gore at a the Clinton Global Initiative last year. "Zero. How many blueprints? Zero."