Friday, December 05, 2008

"Clean Coal" Argument Rages On With New Campaign

Dec 4: The Alliance for Climate Protection, League of Conservation Voters, National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Sierra Club launched the “Reality” Coalition, a national grassroots and advertising effort which they say is designed "to tell a simple truth: in reality, there is no such thing as 'clean coal.' They said, "Environmental experts agree that coal is the dirtiest fuel America uses to produce electricity. The Reality Coalition, then, is challenging the coal industry to come clean -- in its advertising and in its operations. Coal cannot be considered clean until its carbon dioxide emissions are captured and stored.

On December 4, the Reality Coalition launched a multi-million dollar ad campaign, running in print, broadcast and online media and supported by the website, "This Is Reality." The ads are designed and produced by Boulder, Colorado-based Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the agency responsible for the “Truth” anti-tobacco campaign. The first “Reality” print ad shows a solitary door labeled “Clean Coal Facility Entrance.” Behind the door, though, lies a barren field. “In reality, there’s no such thing as clean coal,” the ad states.

The ad continues: “Coal is one of the leading causes of global warming. But that hasn’t stopped the coal industry from advertising clean coal. Yet, the truth is there isn’t a single commercial coal plant in America today that captures its global warming pollution. Learn more about what the coal industry is not telling you …” Reality’s first TV ad follows the same premise and can be viewed on the website indicated below.

Former Vice President Gore said, “The coal industry has spent hundreds of millions promoting ‘clean coal’ technology, but in reality, there is not a single large-scale demonstration project in the United States for capturing and safely burying all of coal’s CO2 emissions. The industry must make good its promise if they truly want to do their part to solve the climate crisis. Until that happens, coal cannot be called ‘clean’.” The “Reality” Coalition said it echoes the call made by Gore and the Alliance for Climate Protection in a recent New York Times op-ed that "until coal is truly clean, there should be no new coal-fired power plants built in America."

Vice President for Communications Joe Lucas, of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), a partnership of companies involved in producing electricity from coal, responded immediately with a lengthy statement saying, "I'm surprised that a coalition of environmental special interest groups has placed ads doubting the existence of clean coal technologies. For over 40 years, private industry, academia, and the federal government have been working in partnership to bring new technologies to the marketplace that reduces the environmental footprint of using coal to generate electricity. . .

"In our America's Power campaign ( we have consistently talked about the need to invest in advanced clean coal technologies to ensure that we can capture and safely store CO2 emissions at coal-based power plants both here at home and around the world. While this remains a complex and challenging task, anyone who is skeptical about the progress that is being made on this front would only need to visit the U.S. Department of Energy's website (Clean Power Initiative). . . to get a better appreciation and understanding of the industry's commitment to this cause.

"We join President-elect Barack Obama in calling for additional funding for advanced clean coal technologies to ensure that we meet the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time enjoying the benefits of relying upon coal, our most abundant domestic energy resource, to meet future energy needs. I would have hoped that the environmental special interest groups that are sponsoring this new ad would support such an effort, but they have obviously chosen a different path."

During his campaign for the Presidency, George W. Bush pledged to commit $2 billion over 10 years to advance clean coal technology - a pledge he has subsequently carried out in the National Energy Policy and in budget requests to Congress. The DOE website, identified by ACCCE in the statement describes the extensive effort of the Federal government in advancing and promoting "clean coal" technology.

In a related matter, on December 1, 2008, Greenpeace released an analysis showing that the global cost of coal was at least 360 billion (Euros, $US 456 billion) last year alone. The report, The True Cost of Coal, released with the independent Dutch Institute CE Delft, arrived at this figure by looking at very modest CO2 damage costs, health costs and mining accidents. Joris Thijssen, climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace International said, "The relentless expansion of the coal industry is the single greatest threat to averting dangerous climate change. Coal is the most climate-polluting fossil fuel, responsible for one third of all CO2 emissions, and is projected to increase to 60% of emissions by 2030. Clearly, quitting coal will benefit not only the climate, but also reduce the other impacts which everybody else has to pay for."

President-elect Obama has said as part of his overall energy plan that he would "Develop and Deploy Clean Coal Technology." [
See WIMS 10/21/08]. Specifically, the Plan says, "Carbon capture and storage technologies hold enormous potential to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as we power our economy with domestically produced and secure energy. As a U.S. Senator, Obama has worked tirelessly to ensure that clean coal technology becomes commercialized. An Obama administration will provide incentives to accelerate private sector investment in commercial scale zero‐carbon coal facilities. In order to maximize the speed with which we advance this critical technology, Barack Obama and Joe Biden will instruct DOE to enter into public private partnerships to develop 5 “first‐of‐a‐kind”commercial scale coal‐fired plants with carbon capture and sequestration."

Access a release from NRDC (
click here). Access the Reality Coalition website for links to the ads and additional information(click here). Access the statement from ACCCE (click here). Access the DOE website on Clean Power (click here). Access a release from Greenpeace (click here). Access the Greenpeace 92-page report (click here). Access the details of the Obama Energy Plan (click here). Access the SourceWatch Coal Issues Portal (click here). Access the Sierra Club data (click here). [*Energy, *Air, *Climate]