Business

Biden On Coal Regulations: ‘A Lot Of People Are Going To Get Hurt’

Vice President Joe Biden told HBO viewers that federal regulations to move the U.S. away from coal-fired power will hurt a lot of Americans.

“Us moving away from coal because it’s such a polluter, there’s a lot of people going to get hurt, good people who worked their whole life,” Biden told VICE News in its season premiere on HBO last Friday.

“It’s a national responsibility, in our view, to help them make that transition,” Biden said. “We all have an obligation. When fundamental alterations in a generation of energy are up in play, there’s winners and losers.”

It turns out Biden’s right. Federal regulations clamping down on coal-fired power plants have cost thousands of jobs across the country as power plants and coal mines shed workers to stay in business.

In the new season of VICE, filmmakers try to link man-made global warming to sea level rises across the world. The film says that the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are melting faster than ever and are causing flooding in places like Bangladesh.

“Our oceans are rising,” the filmmakers write. “With human use of hydrocarbons skyrocketing, waters around the globe are getting hotter and, now, this warm sub-surface water is washing into Antarctica’s massive western glaciers causing the glaciers to retreat and break off.”

“Antarctica holds 90% of the world’s ice and 70% of its freshwater, so if even a small fraction of the ice sheet in Antarctica melts, the resulting sea level rise will completely remap the world as we know it — and it is already happening,” the filmmakers add. “In the last decade, some of the most significant glaciers here have tripled their melt rate.”

Antarctica’s sea ice extent has actually increased rapidly over the last few decades, despite predictions to the contrary.

The film sets up global warming as an irreversible catastrophe in the making. Cue Joe Biden who is featured in an exclusive interview at the end of the first episode of VICE’s latest episode. Biden not only advocated for moving away from coal power — which Obama administration regulations currently in the works aim to accomplish — the vice president also said denying man-made global warming was akin to “denying gravity.”

“It’s almost like denying gravity now,” said Biden. “I mean wait a minute, ‘c’mon … Look what superstorm Sandy did right here in New York.”

VICE asked Biden why he thought the U.S. political system was gridlocked on global warming and so many other issues. Biden said it’s because of the “way in which we fund our elections” allows a small number of critics to gain power and control the political system.

“The public is ahead of their elected officials. We’ve been in this wilderness now for about 7 to 8 years in terms of not able to reach a consensus,” Biden said.

But Biden may be slightly overstating the public’s support for government regulations to combat global warming. A CNN poll from January found that 57 percent of Americans said global warming is not a threat to their lives.

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