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Obama's drive for US global-warming law

His visit to MIT's energy labs was fine. But to win over coal-state senators, he needs to focus on innovations in 'clean' coal.

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President Obama took a tour of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's energy labs Friday, seeing the latest innovations in wind, solar, and battery research. And he also made a speech there asking Congress to pass a climate-change law soon.

But Mr. Obama's time would have been better spent visiting an innovative energy plant in West Virginia that, starting this month, became the first coal-fired plant in the world to practice what is called "carbon capture and sequestrations" (CCS).

On Oct. 1, the nation's largest electric utility, American Electric Power, started to inject liquefied carbon dioxide, captured from the exhaust of its Mountaineer plant, and pump it into porous rock nearly two miles down.

This technological feat could end up being a historic moment for the future of the planet – if the process of burying atmosphere-altering gases can ever work on a global scale.

The technology is necessary for a very real political reason: Passage of any bill in Congress aimed at curbing the effects of global warming will hinge on the votes of senators from coal-dependent states in the Midwest and West. And so far, those senators aren't buying into the legislation on the table, such as a bill introduced by Democratic senators Barbara Boxer and John Kerry.

Unless that group of senators sees their states having a chance to achieve "clean" coal and can gain federal support for it, the US may not have a climate-change law this year.

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