That’s certainly true of the coal industry. Last Friday, the AP had another very well conceived article about the president and what’s left of FutureGen, the vaunted plan for a carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) demonstration plant that the Department of Energy killed last winter. I have, on a number of occasions, criticized he press for not paying more attention to CCS technology given that both presidents have promised Americans that it will play a big part in their energy future. As it turns out, FutureGen is not completely dead, but group’s chief executive told the AP, “We’re awaiting the change of administration, I’ll put it that way.”

The next president’s plan for CCS is a story that journalists must urgently explore in the weeks after the election, but there are many other energy-related matters to attend to as well. Eventually, and perhaps quickly, cap-and-trade will resurface, especially as the United Nations-sponsored climate talks in Poland (part of a process designed to produce a successor to the Kyoto Protocol) draw closer.

Whatever happens, tomorrow is likely the start of a new era in energy policy for the United States. And the reporting the follows with it, in the week and months to come, is going to be even more important. Journalists won’t have to worry about two candidates’ willingness to attack each other on the issue and rhetoric must be dispensed with. To repeat: The next president’s role in shaping the nation’s energy policy – and, I would add, the importance of that policy — is not lost on anyone.


Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.