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Abortion & Health Reform; Tackling Climate Change; NATO Troops in Afghanistan

Aired December 07, 2009 - 11:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Heidi Collins. CNN NEWSROOM continues now with Tony Harris.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. It is Monday, December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day. And here are the top stories for you in the CNN NEWSROOM.

The Pentagon announces the first wave of new troop deployments to Afghanistan. U.S. Marines will be on the ground by Christmas.

Holiday bargains that make you work for them. How to get that mail-in rebate you were promised.

And as a global conference on climate change gets under way, an American polluter tries to capture the temperature raising gases it pumps out.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris. And you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

You know, abortion is a volatile issue all by itself. Today, it is part of the contentious debate over health care reform.

The Senate considers an amendment to tighten restrictions on federal funding for abortion. Just moments ago, Majority Leader Harry Reid predicted another working session for senators next weekend, and he says it is time to seize the moment.


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I think everyone would acknowledge the historic time legislatively we're now involved. We've tried to get to this point with health care legislation for almost 70 years, and we're there. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.


HARRIS: Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash is following the debate on Capitol Hill for us. And she joins us live.

Dana, good morning to you. DANA BASH, CNN SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

HARRIS: So, when will the debate over the abortion language begin today?

BASH: As soon as today. I think that's the best way to say it.

The Senate is still a tricky place to nail down, and it's not entirely clear that the abortion debate will start today. But certainly, as you heard from the Senate Democratic leader, he is hoping that it does. And the reason is because Democratic leaders want to get this over with. They don't want to have a lengthy debate on this incredibly contentious issue, emotional issue that divides their caucus.

However, the reality is that Ben Nelson, an anti-abortion Democrat from the state of Nebraska, he is preparing to introduce an amendment that would strengthen and make more strict the restrictions on abortion in the Senate bill. You'll remember what the House passed. That has incredibly strict restrictions on abortion. So this would effectively put those rules that passed the House in the Senate bill.

And Senator Nelson has been very clear that this is make or break for him. Listen to what he said.


SEN. BEN NELSON (D), NEBRASKA: It is a deal-breaker if we don't get this type of language in the bill. But I can say also that even if we get this language in the bill, there are a number of other concerns that I've expressed over quite a period of time that are also deal-breakers.


BASH: Tony, he's going to be the toughest nut to crack. I talked to him over the weekend in the hallways here, and he said, "I don't think people are really taking me seriously," people in the Democratic leadership and at the White House, that if it's not the abortion issue, it is the issue of the public option, or other issues that have not gotten as much publicity like cost and a program that is in this bill that he simply doesn't like. So he's going to be the toughest nut to crack.

But again, the abortion issue is going to be very interesting. Abortion rights Democrats say that they have the votes to defeat his amendment. We'll see what happens.

HARRIS: Well, you know, it's interesting. Taking the senator seriously and at his word would lead you to conclude that he would be willing to vote against his president and his Senate leader and Democrats in the Senate on health care reform if it doesn't address his concerns.

Is that what he wants us to conclude? BASH: Point-blank. That is what he is saying, point-blank.

He said to me in the hallway that, again, he doesn't think that they're taking that seriously. He is very much willing to buck his president, to buck his party if he doesn't get some of his concerns addressed. But I just want to turn towards one of those concerns, Tony. And that is the so-called public option.

HARRIS: The public option, yes.

BASH: There were some interesting developments over the weekend. Look, the real reason why the Democratic leadership kept the Senate in all weekend long wasn't so much about the debate on the Senate floor. It was to have conversations in private about the public option that divides Democrats.

And one idea did emerge from meetings with liberal -- the most liberal Democrats and the most conservative Democrats, to have the Office of Personnel Management, which currently administers health plans for federal employees, to take on that role for the broader American public, and to essentially offer something that private insurers would be a part of, but at either little or no profit. And the idea would be to tell the most liberal Democrats who think a public option is critical for creating competition that this would be another way to create competition, but also to tell conservative Democrats who don't want this to be government run or government funded that this would be a private plan and it would just be kind of regulated by the federal government, but not run by the federal government.

So they're hoping that this is some kind of middle ground. It is very early in the stages, but it is possible that we could see a breakthrough with something like this or this, and a combination of other things in the next couple of days.

HARRIS: It is so fascinating. I am loving this process of the sausage-making, as we call it.

Dana, appreciate it. Thank you.

BASH: Thanks, Tony.

HARRIS: Let's do this -- let's check the wire now and the day's other big stories.

A worldwide effort to tackle global warming get under way right now in Denmark. Diplomats from 192 countries taking part. It is billed as the biggest and most important climate change conference ever.

U.N. organizers will outline programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The world's biggest polluters, China and the United States, have announced plans to lower their carbon emissions.

Washington's representative spoke just a short time ago.


DR. JONATHAN PERSHING, DEP. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE: We are committed to achieving the strongest possible outcome in the next two weeks. The world community has here in Copenhagen the opportunity to reach a deal that could move us much more aggressively down the path to meeting one of mankind's greatest challenges and to speed the transition to a low carbon global economy.

The task before us is not easy. There is still much work to be done.


HARRIS: OK. A live report from Copenhagen in just a couple of minutes.

A national holiday in Iran. So this video posted on YouTube shows demonstrators jamming college campuses today, still angry over last year's presidential election results.

Blogs say police cracked down at universities across Tehran. Reporters were warned against covering today's events.

Iraq's national election likely delayed until late February. Iraq's parliament barely beat a deadline to approve a new election law last night. Withdrawal of U.S. combat troops this summer hinges on a successful vote. Minority Sunnis forced a delay, demanding more seats in parliament.

In Utah, lots of snow and ice making driving and apparently walking a bit of a challenge today. Hundreds of crashes and close calls were reported over the weekend. Troopers are urging people to just slow down. Yikes.


SGT. SHELDON RICHES, UTAH HIGHWAY PATROL: We've got people coming up behind us 60 miles an hour, 70 miles an hour. It's only a matter of time before they get in a crash that they cause, and they're going to cause somebody else damage or damage or injuries to themselves.

MINDY BLAKE, DRIVER: The car in front of me lost control, hit the barricade, bounced back into the freeway. And that's when I hit him.


HARRIS: Reynolds Wolf is in the Weather Center for us, and we will check in with Reynolds in just a couple of minutes, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Climate change on the front burner today for the world. One hundred ninety-two nations kicking off two weeks of talks. It is the largest U.N. summit ever on this issue.

Let's go live now to CNN's Phil Black at the conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

And Phil, if you would, let's do this -- let's break this down for everyone watching -- 192 nations. What's the goal?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the goal is, Tony, to try and get all of those 192 nations to reach an agreement on just what the world should do in tackling climate change. What that means is that each of those nations has to make a commitment that is acceptable to everybody else, that everyone else feels is them doing their fair share to lower carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Thus, somehow creating a global treaty.

Now, that global treaty is not going to happen in the next couple of weeks. That's essentially a given. Things have not progressed far enough. But what they are hoping to achieve here is essentially the next best thing.

They want all those countries here to reach agreements, to make commitments on just what they're prepared to do in slashing their own carbon emissions. For the richer countries, it's about also giving billions of dollars to help poorer countries come to terms with climate change.

Everyone's got an offer on the table. At the moment, many of those offers, and especially the key ones from the United States from China, the consensus here is that they are not big enough and they need to give more ground over the coming weeks.

But the feeling here is optimistic. They say there is tremendous political goodwill. So, perhaps things can be thrashed out to come something towards success by the end of this conference -- Tony.

HARRIS: OK. And is the sense that something comprehensive is workable, or a long shot at this point, Phil?

BLACK: Well, optimism took a real dive over the last few months. Things have been going poorly in the lead-up negotiations to this conference.

HARRIS: No doubt.

BLACK: Now that things are looking a little bit more up -- and it's because countries like China and the United States have put offers on the table, it's because President Obama has announced that he will attend the final days of this conference, that really matter so much in thrashing out an agreement. For that reason, hope, to some degree, is alive. But after today's opening ceremony, with some very somber, serious speeches, everyone here is very much aware of what they believe is at risk, how much work there is to do, how significant the differences are.

But they've been talking about this for years now. And there is very much the feeling by the people who are organizing this conference that it's time to deliver, to come to agreements, to make a real difference and unite globally in tackling climate change -- Tony.


Phil Black for us.

Phil, appreciate it. Thank you.

And as world leaders address the issue of climate change, we also want to hear from you for the next two weeks. We're going to answer your questions on the issue.

Go to Leave us a comment with your questions. And then we will present the answers and break it all down for you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. You can also send us an iReport or you can call us at 1-877-742-5760.

We want to hear from you on climate change.

The passionate debate over global warming and climate change shifts into high gear as world leaders and scientists meet in Copenhagen for the climate conference. But what is the truth about global warming?

Tonight at 8:00, a special edition of "CAMPBELL BROWN" looks at the science, the skepticism and the secrets surrounding global warming. Trick or truth?

Getting trained, then deployed. More U.S. troops are heading to Afghanistan, but what about soldiers from other countries?

And Reynolds Wolf -- there he is -- is tracking a huge winter storm that is starting in the West and heading East.

Good to see you, Doctor.

But first, the latest on the Dow. Take a look at the numbers on the Big Board. The Dow is up 21 points.

We're going to check the numbers with Felicia Taylor, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM in just a minute.

We're back in a moment.




HARRIS: President Obama looking for help in Afghanistan from Turkey. The president meets at the White House this hour with the Turkish prime minister, Erdogan.

Last month, Turkey doubled its troop level in Afghanistan to 1,750. The prime minister calls it the necessary number, and he is resisting calls to send more troops.

Let's get more on the role of NATO forces in Afghanistan. CNN's Atia Abawi joins us live now from Kabul.

And Atia, what about the NATO troops? Are they putting forth much effort in Afghanistan, or is it more of an American fight?

ATIA ABAWI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Americans are taking a bulk of the fight here in Afghanistan. Out of over 100,000 troops within the country, international troops, 68,000 are Americans. But NATO is fighting the fight as well.

The international security assistance, they're going strong, particularly down south. You see the Canadians and the Brits primarily fighting in Kandahar and Helmand province. You see the Germans up north and the Italians and Spaniards in the west.

So, yes, they are fighting the fight. Over 20 nations in the NATO forces here in Afghanistan have lost soldiers from their countries, have lost Marines, have lost troops. So they are putting in an effort, but, yes, the American forces are taking a bulk of that mission -- Tony.

HARRIS: And Atia, how do the NATO operations work there? Where are the troops?

Atia, I'm just sort of curious as to how the NATO operation works there. Can you tell us where the troops are?

Oh, it looks like we've lost Atia Abawi in Kabul.

Atia, appreciate it.

Checking our top stories now.

At least 10 people are dead after a suicide attack at a courthouse in Peshawar, Pakistan. Officials say the bomber blew himself up as police tried to stop him from entering. Two police officers are among the dead, 36 people were wounded.

Move out day for thousands of National Guard soldiers. They waved good-bye to their families in Tennessee yesterday. Always an emotional scene. The troops are headed to Mississippi for training, and then off to Iraq for 10 months to help protect U.S. convoys.

Possible salmonella contamination prompting a California company to recall about 23,000 pounds of ground beef products. Most of it sold in Arizona and New Mexico. Beef Packers Incorporated produced the meat on September 23rd. The company wants you to check your local stores to see if you may have bought any of it.

You shop for the best deals on the best products, but do you save all the money that you can? Personal Finance Editor Gerri Willis has her "Top Tips" on rebates. That's next.


HARRIS: Holiday deals, but there is a catch. You actually have to mail in those mail-in rebates to get your discount. And even then, two out of 10 customers don't get their money. Huh.

Let's talk about it with Personal Finance Editor Gerri Willis.

Gerri, good morning to you.


HARRIS: How do you get a hold of a merchant and get that merchant to keep their promise of a rebate?

WILLIS: Yes. Tony, let's start with what the rebate is.

You've seen the ads. A company offers a deep discount on a big- ticket item like a computer, a television, and it comes in the form of what they call a mail-in rebate. That means you have to do the legwork if you want the money.

Most of the time, rebates work and customers take advantage. But, like you said, more than 20 percent of the time customers either don't get their rebates or they're turned down on a technicality. Don't be one of those customers.

The first thing you can do, read the instructions. Some of these rebates require a number of extensive steps.

Don't get tripped up. Missing steps could delay the process or result in your losing the rebate all together.

Pay particular attention to the amount of time you have to act on the rebate offer. There's always deadlines. Don't delay.

Also, keep all the packaging from the product until after you get the rebate. That's because rebates often require you to cut out what they call the UPC symbols or other parts of the product packaging to be included with the paperwork.

Speaking of paperwork, make copies. You want to have a record of the rebate around in case something goes wrong or the rebate doesn't come in the mail -- Tony.

HARRIS: What else can you do, Gerri, to get that rebate?

WILLIS: You have to call the company sometimes that offered the rebate in the first place. You know, sometimes retailers and manufacturers use a third-party company to process all that paperwork, so you may need to track down a different company altogether to get your check.

If that doesn't work, there is other help available. You can file a complaint with your local Better Business Bureau, your state attorney general, or the Federal Trade Commission help line. Call them, 877-FTC-HELP, or -- Tony.

HARRIS: Anything else? I'm just fishing a bit here. Anything else people can do to make sure they get their rebate? WILLIS: You know, the real deal here is that you've really got to read those instructions carefully. Most people take into account the rebate when they're setting their holiday budget, so it's essential that you stick with that number and get the rebate.

Often, the details are very complicated and you have to follow the directions to the letter. So make sure you do that.

Hang on to any packaging so that if you do have trouble, you can complain to the government or directly to the company. At the end of the day, it's all about the details -- Tony.

HARRIS: Nice. All right, Gerri. Appreciate it. Great tips, as always.

So, you're trying to hold on, obviously, to all the money you can, but states, as you know, are raises taxes and your bank is getting more of your cash when you visit the ATM.

The CNN Money team joins us next.


HARRIS: Got to tell you, state governments are dealing with some of their worst budget deficits since the Great Depression. To try to bridge the gap, many are raising taxes and implementing new fees, and some states are getting pretty creative.

Felicia Taylor is at the New York Stock Exchange with a look at some of these new fees.

How creative, Felicia? Good morning.

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Tony, pretty creative, unfortunately. This is exactly what you don't want to hear.

States are raising taxes and fees by a record $23.9 billion in fiscal 2010. That actually began in July for most states. That's about triple the increases put in place for fiscal 2009.

Twenty-nine states have already enacted revenue hikes of some kind to fight major budget shortfalls. Mostly, hikes come in the form of higher income taxes, which, of course, impact the wealthiest citizens.

For example, Connecticut raised its personal income tax from 5 percent to 6.5 percent for people who make more than $500,000. Other states, though, are getting pretty creative. They're raising or implements taxes, fees or fines in a variety of ways.

For example, New York established a $10 fee to enter horses in races. Rhode Island will charge $100 to expunge your criminal record. And in Georgia, drivers -- listen, Tony -- face a $200 fine for super speeding, that's driving more than 85 miles an hour on the highway. So take your foot off the pedal. HARRIS: Yes, I'm with that. I got to ask you, though, Felicia, do states have any other options or can we expect to see more of these hikes and these fees in the future?

TAYLOR: The answer you don't want is, in short, expect more. Five months into the new fiscal year, states are already facing additional shortfalls down the road. There's a gap of about $22 billion expected for fiscal 2011.

Now, as for the other options, the big one naturally is to cut down on spending. But that's politically just as difficult, if not even more so, than raising taxes. For instance, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty balanced his state's budget through these kinds of spending cuts. Now he's being sued by some citizens and state democrats because the services that he cut were designed to help the poor, elderly and disabled.

So it's just one example of the really tough situations that are facing almost every state this year and even into next year. So it's not a great situation at all for citizens or the state governments. They've got to figure out how to balance things out.

Anyway, here's a quick check of the stock market. The Dow Industrials are up about a fifth of 1 percent. The Nasdaq has pulled back. It's down fractionally. The S&P is up fractionally. So we're basically trading flat for most of the session. We started out to the downside, then moved upward, but not so much. Really waiting for Ben Bernanke's comments in front of the economic club in Washington.

HARRIS: Felicia, appreciate it. Thank you, see you next hour. Thanks.

So you get your cash, the bank gets your cash, too. ATM fees have soared over the past decade. Business correspondent Stephanie Elam now with the numbers.

I got to tell you, Stephanie, I visited -- and here's the mistake, of course -- an ATM out of network and the fee was $3.00; $3.00. I'm going to try not to let that happen again.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: But, you know, you weren't just getting a hit with a fee from that bank.

HARRIS: What do you mean?

ELAM: You were probably getting hit with a fee from your bank as well for using an ATM out of network. Did you realize that?

HARRIS: I think I did. I think I was just in a pinch. But I got to plan better.

ELAM: You gave me flat eyebrows there.

This is exactly what the problem is here. Because, you know, sometimes it's just you can't avoid it. You're out some place out of your loop, you're not near your bank. You have to go to a different ATM. And you do that, and they tell you we're going to charge you two bucks, three bucks for the use of this ATM. Fine. But your bank may also charge you, but that one you're not going to see until you see your statement.

And so, this is causing some lawmakers to want some changes made. They say this double whammy, this double dips of fees on ATM usage is just really out of control, especially since people are strapped for cash now. Think about it, if you go to pull out $20, if your bank is charges you and also the non-bank is charging you, I mean, the bank that's not your bank, that own the ATM, you can get charged $4, $5 to pull money out, just $20 out of an ATM. So this is causing some to want some changes.

If you take a look at it, just to give you some background here, this year the average fee jumped nearly 13 percent to $2.22. Nearly 99 percent of banks impose this charge. But then your bank actually topping on this fee on top of it for the fact that you went to a different ATM, their fees have actually dropped a bit. They're down about 14 cents over the last year. On average it's still about $1.32 that you will get hit with a fee for that. Seventy-two percent of the banks, just about, charge this fee for the fact that you used an ATM that's out of network.

So this issue becoming a hot button issue. People want that changed. Because, as you found out, Tony, that doesn't feel good when you pay that much to get your cash out of the ATM.

HARRIS: well, you know, you're charging me all these fees and I can't get a loan for my small business and I can't get help from you to mitigate my mortgage. I'm not happy, Stephanie.

ELAM: Right, and a lot of people feel that way about it. And you know, this is one of those fees that's been around long before this crisis started. It was there while everyone was enjoying the nice boom that started in 1998 when we saw these fees ramping up. It's one of those things where people are just now getting to the point like, hey, this isn't cool. Let's do something about it. So you may hear more about this.

But it's just something to keep in mind. Maybe plan a little bit more. Go to the ATM that is your bank once a week instead of multiple times. That could help out.

HARRIS: Nice. Nice. All right, Stephanie, appreciate it. Thank you.

So small businesses trying to recapture the start-up spark. See how a bakery in its 13th year gets a makeover to fire up the oven ovens. Just logon to


HARRIS: I love this. Not quite "Random Moment of the Day" worthy, but pretty doggone close. A tall building can't stop Santa obviously. Check it out. Saint Nick and his Christmas crew repelling down the skyscraper showing off their skills in downtown Cincinnati. It's not the only Santa sighting this weekend. His entrance in California much more subdued, but just listen to this crowd. Take a look and listen.


HARRIS: We're going to hear the cheer any second here. Kids, yes, happy to see Santa's here. He arrived by ferry. The annual event officially kicks off the holiday season in Coronado.

Maybe you've already seen the red kettles outside your favorite stores. Some of those Salvation Army bell ringers are volunteers, but others depend on it to make a living, like the woman our John Cowells introduces us to.


DIANE EUBANKS, SALVATION ARMY BELL RINGER: Hello there, guys. Merry Christmas.

Well, you're in the spirit today.

My name is Diane Eubanks. I'm here working for the Salvation Army. We're taking in donations for the needy, the homeless.

Thank you very much. Merry Christmas.

I'm homeless and I don't have a job. And I lost my job, my husband's work slowed up and he started on unemployment. So we lived in our van on and off for about seven months. No work. Hard to find a job.

Thank you very much.

It was last year at this time that I became homeless. Went to the Salvation Army, they charge you $9.00 a night. I got hired as a bell ringer, so I'll be doing that tomorrow.

ANDREW KELLY, CAPTAIN, SALVATION ARMY ORLANDO: Diane is an example of how somebody who's had a difficulty and is without a home and so we're trying to provide a place for her to stay. And then when she learned about the opportunities to ring the bell and make some income, we were glad to be able to help her with that.

EUBANKS: Good morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you doing today?

EUBANKS: Good. Trying to stay a little warm.

KELLY: Bell ringers will gather together in the morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's going to be your kettle for your location. You're going to grab a smock right there.

KELLY: They get assigned to whatever kettle location they'll be. EUBANKS: It feels good. And it feels good to help out and make a little money in your pocket.

Is this bell OK?


EUBANKS: Do you keep the buckets with you or do they go back here? Thank you.

Good to get on the bus and get warm.

KELLY: They get in the vehicles and are transported to those locations. They will be out there and ring the bells throughout the day.

EUBANKS: Good morning. Happy holidays.

Thank you, Merry Christmas.

Thank you, hon. Merry Christmas.

Actually, I don't know if you can notice, but you get a little excited your bell starts ringing a little faster. I feel great cause I know that money's going to go towards helping others.

Merry Christmas, everyone.



HARRIS: Checking our top stories now, the abortion issue is front and center today in the debate over health care reform. The Senate considers an amendment to tighten restrictions on federal funding for abortion. Some liberals oppose the tougher language included in the House bill.

Sixty-eight years ago today the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The attack prompted the U.S. to get involved in World War II. A remembrance ceremony is held today in Hawaii.

It is opening day at the world's largest Climate Change Conference ever. The U.N. summit in Denmark begins amid controversy over leaked e-mails indicating the world's main source for climate change data may have been exaggerating the evidence.

We are committed to bringing you all sides of the global warming debate and earlier on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING," Kiran Chetry spoke to two scientists about man's role in climate change.


PROF. ALAN ROBOCK, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: If you try to explain the climate change of the past 100 years, there are multiple things causing climate change. There are natural causes, like volcanoes and solar variations, and there are human causes, the greenhouse gases we put in.

And you can't explain the warming of the last 50 years without the effect of greenhouse gases. I've done calculations and many other people have, just natural causes would have actually caused cooling. That's why we say there's more than a 90 percent certainty that humans have caused the warming of the last 50 years. There's no other theory to explain that.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And Professor Wegman, what is your take on that?

PROF. EDWARD WEGMAN, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: Well, I think that's probably accurate. You know, the physical models seem to predict that.

So, I'm not -- I'm not a denier as you had suggested earlier, but I am skeptical of the way the science is done. And the thing that was more damning to me was this attempt to suppress peer review for people who are critics. Clearly, if you -- if you believe in the science, then you ought to be robust to people who criticize it. And if you suppress their opinions, then you're doing a disservice to the science, and you're also making the point that it's a dubious science.

ROBOCK: Well, it turns out there was no attempt to suppress peer review. In the e-mails, the scientists were frustrated that some science which wasn't good at all actually got published in peer review. And they said it shouldn't be considered in the IPCC report, but they did nothing about it and it turns out it was considered in IPCC report. You can read it. And it evaluates those papers and says that they aren't good and don't include them in the analysis.

So no suppression took place at all. It was just a private expression of frustration with bad science.

CHETRY: I got you.

All right, Professor Robock.

And also Professor Wegman, we didn't mean to mischaracterize your position. As you said before, you're taking some issue with the methodology of the research. So I want to thank you as well for being with us this morning.


HARRIS: So as world leaders meet in Copenhagen to address climate change, we will explore climate change as a jobs creator. Can the green economy be the answer to America's unemployment crisis? Can a green economy lead to sustainable job growth? Over the next two weeks, we will examine various industries and so-called green jobs.

Snow, ice, white-out conditions. It is a mess in the west, and this major storm system is moving east. Our Reynolds Wolf joins us in the Severe Weather Center. That is next.


HARRIS: Here's a look what we're working on for the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM. Parents sent off to war, a study looks at the stress on kids left at home. Find out which children have the hardest time when a parent is deployed.

And weighing in on President Obama's decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. CNN's John King talks with New Mexico diners about whether they support the troop surge.


HARRIS: As world leaders meet in Copenhagen to address climate change, we will explore climate change as a jobs creator. Can the green economy be the answer to America's unemployment crisis? Can a green economy lead to sustainable job growth? Over the next two weeks, we will examine various industries and so-called green jobs, reducing carbon emissions that trap the sun's heat. That is the ultimate goal of the climate change summit taking place in Copenhagen.

Closer to home, a coal-fired plant in West Virginia is attempting to capture and store carbon instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. CNN's Elaine Quijano reports from New Haven, West Virginia.


ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nestled in the heart of American coal country sits the Mountaineer power plant that at first glance looks like its traditional coal-fired counterparts.

(on camera): What's this part of the process.


QUIJANO (voice-over): The newest part of the plant, a five-story multimillion dollar structure that began operating this fall, makes this facility a one ever a kind experiment as the world's first-ever, coal-fired power plant to capture and store some of the carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere as a heat trapping pollutant.

SHERRICK: We take that CO2, then inject it underground into one of two reservoirs.

QUIJANO: Project Manager Brian Sherrick says the West Virginia plant has received worldwide attention, as countries like China and India grapple with pollution from coal, as well.

SHERRICK: We want to see how well the process works. You know, what energy demand it requires with electricity and steam.

QUIJANO: The project is an expensive partnership between plant owner American Electric Power and French company Alstom. The two companies are spending more than $100 million to capture just a tiny fraction of the plant's carbon emissions, under 2 percent. The goal? To see if the technology can be ramped up for wide scale commercial use.

PROF. KELLY SIMS GALLAGHER, TUFTS UNIVERSITY: We still need to learn a lot about this technology in order for it to be fully deployable.

QUIJANO: The new technology, called carbon capture and sequestration, essentially works this way. Carbon dioxide is compressed, liquefied and injected thousands of feet underground into porous rock, sealed off by a layer of less porous rock above to hold the CO2 in place.

Experts like energy Professor Kelly Sims Gallagher of Tufts University say experiments like the Mountaineer project are critical to answering questions about the cost and safety of the process.

GALLAGHER: We need to be doing many more demonstrations of the carbon storage part of the equation.

QUIJANO: In the shadow of the plant, just across the river, local resident Elisa Young worries about safety.

ELISA YOUNG, CITIZEN ACTIVIST: Let's face it, this is an experiment. The nature of experiment is you do not know what will happen.

QUIJANO: She's concerned about carbon dioxide injections triggering seismic activity or leaking out of the reservoirs.

YOUNG: I'm sorry, but no scientist in the world can convince me that there's not a 50/50 chance it's going to go in this direction.

QUIJANO: Plant owner, American Electric Power, maintains it is taking proper safety precautions. It's drilled wells around the injection sites to monitor groundwater and keep track of where the carbon dioxide goes.

PROF. TIM CARR, WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY: Catastrophic risks are probably, I would say, are minimal.

QUIJANO: Geology Professor Tim Carr of West Virginia University believes, if done properly in the right location, underground rock formations can store carbon dioxide safely. He notes that CO2 injections have been used for decades to help extract oil and gas from the earth. He sees carbon capture and storage as a way of speeding up what Mother Nature would do eventually.

CARR: There is something called a carbon cycle. We've been digging up carbon, that's called coal, that's called oil, that's called gas, that was buried in the earth and we're putting it back.

QUIJANO: And now a big boost for the project. The U.S. Department of Energy has announced $334 million in stimulus money over the next ten years for American Electric Power to expand its carbon capture and storage operation. But resident Alisa Young believes that's a waste.

YOUNG: It's like we're taking our kids for a drive out in the country and kicking them out. This is a dead end. And so the time to invest in renewables is now.

QUIJANO: Company officials say they're also investing in renewable energy, but say putting that infrastructure into place will take time. And some experts say because coal remains a cheap abundant source of energy for the world, retrofitting or building new plants globally with carbon capture and storage technology could one day prove critical to slowing climate change.

(on camera): Over the next few years, American Electric Power lopes to expand its use of carbon capture and storage. The eventual goal? To take what officials are learning here and one day apply that technology to power plants across the country.

Elaine Quijano, CNN.