Coal Astroturf Group Offends Again

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I received a creepy email yesterday from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. It’s the Astroturf group funded by the coal industry that landed in hot water earlier this year for sending Congresspeople phony letters opposing the Climate Bill. Well, this group is the chief PR maven supporting “clean coal,” as well.

“Clean coal” is an experimental technology that promises to cut coal’s climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero (although the Coalition does what it can to expand the concept to include any coal plant that happens to be in compliance with the US Clean Air Act. Decades after passage of that law, you might think that would be all US power plants, in which case you would be wrong! But that’s fodder for another post.)

Anyway, most people refer to the new technology, also known as Carbon Capture and Storage, or CCS, when they utter the words “clean coal.” CCS is already chugging away at a few small, experimental power plants but don’t expect it to save the planet anytime soon. Experts say it would take decades and trillions of dollars to convert the country’s coal-burning power industry, which provides about half of  the country’s electricity today. That would be decades longer than we have to reduce carbon emissions. This reality hasn’t daunted the Obama Administration, which revived funding to a “clean coal” demonstration project in Illinois. The previous administration had pulled the plug on the same undertaking a few years ago, after cost overruns and questions about its commercial viability.

Also unfazed by clean coal’s apparent limitations is the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which continues to cheer boisterously, despite the group’s own embarrassing PR setbacks this year.  Now, it has offended again; this time pissing off a group called Operation Free for apparently trying to piggyback on the Veterans Day buzz surrounding the organization, which represents men and women in the US armed forces who believe addressing climate change is central to the country’s national security.

“Yesterday, we sent an email to you which some folks felt implied that the group Operation Free supports clean coal technology, an issue which they have not taken a position on. That was not our intention,” wrote Joe Lucas, Senior Vice President – Communications for America’s Power, a web portal that’s part of the Coalition’s online empire. The apologetic missive continued:

“This event did give me a chance to talk to the folks at Operation Free. I owed them the call because it should be common courtesy to check with an organization before you mention them in an e-mail – and we didn’t do that. I also committed to making an attempt to remove any confusion from the previous e-mail, and I hope this does that. But moreover, it gave us an opportunity to understand more clearly that we share the common goal of promoting greater energy independence,” Lucas wrote, wrapping up by expressing “profound respect, on this Veterans Day,” for the country’s soldiers.

Despite all that sucking up, Coalition efforts to clean up coal’s image – but not its smokestacks – appear to be failing. What do you think?

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About greendistrict

I'm Christine MacDonald, a journalist and the author of the book: "Green, Inc., An Environmental Insider Reveals How a Good Cause Has Gone B

Posted on November 12, 2009, in greenwash and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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