Coal is NOT Clean.
For a while now, whenever I mentioned the term “clean coal” people would roll their eyes and groan, “clean coal,” usually followed by a rolling of the eyes or a mock gagging, eyes bulging expression. Most people know coal isn’t clean, but that hasn’t stopped the coal industry from trying to convince us otherwise.
The Coal Industry is putting $10s of millions into truthiness campaigns to convince people that “Clean Coal” is the path to the future and that the promise of Carbon Capture and Sequestration in the future (sort of like fusion has always been around the corner) makes it acceptable (or even desirable) to accept new coal plants today because tomorrow (or the day after, or the day after that …) coal will somehow be clean. Well, the free ride for that truthiness campaign might be over.
In essence, this site exists to sell the idea that coal is dirty. Pretty easy to do when you consider the facts and clear out the rhetoric. Like the fact that mercury emissions from coal fired-power plants continues to rise and that carbon capture and storage remains an elusive pipe dream that will take another 40 years to deploy on a commercial scale.
We don’t have $35 million (not even close), but I hope this site can serve as a nexus of information for people interested in knowing the dirty facts about clean coal.
Kevin might not have $35 million, but he does have an amazing team. Take a look at this list and decide whether you agree:
Jeff Goodell, contributing editor at Rolling Stone and author of Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future.
Kate Rooth, who works for Greenpeace in the United States promoting climate, forests and oceans issues. She works with the Research Unit to support campaign and action work and is also a non-violence trainer.
Mark Fiore, who the Wall Street Journal recently called “the undisputed guru of the form,” creates animated political cartoons from an undisclosed location somewhere in San Francisco.
For a site that just opened earlier today, that is a pretty powerful team. Forget it, an extremely powerful team. Kevin might not have $35 million budget but he has a team worth millions in terms of quality.
What are some of the items already posted?
The facts section, with 10 “coal hard facts”. #1: Coal increases rates of disease:
The United States burns more than a billion tons of coal each year – that’s 20 pounds of coal for every person in the country, every day.
According to the American Lung Association, 24,000 people a year die prematurely because of pollution from coal-fired power plants. And every year 38,000 heart attacks, 12,000 hospital admissions and anadditional 550,000 asthma attacks result from power plant pollution.
Check out the other nine.
Ask Dr Coal with “straight talk about coal and your family’s health.” Answers to questions that everyone should be asking but for which none of us really seem to want to know the answers. Do you really want to understand the direct linkage between choosing to flip on the light switch and mercury in mothers’ blood and breast milk?
A Coal Myths section, blowing throw some of the coal industry’s talking points that too many of our politicians seem to buy into. How about Myth #5 about the great job creation of the coal industry?
Despite coal industry claims that coal mining creates lots of jobs, the truth is that coal mining employment has been declining for decades, due to increased use of machinery instead of manpower.
In West Virginia alone, coal mining employment has plummeted from 126,000 miners in 1948 (who produced 168 million tons of coal), to just 15,000 miners employed in 2005 (who, with the help of machinery, produced 128 million tons of coal).
Make sure not to miss the explanation of why Carbon Capture and Sequestration is a Myth!!!
The first post: How Clean Coal Cooks Your Brain by Jeff Goodall.
Several years ago, in Gillette, Wyoming, I fell into a long conversation with the vice-president of a large American coal company about coal’s public image problem. Gillette is in the center of the Powder River Basin, the epicenter of the coal boom in America, where 60 foot seams of coal sit just below the surface.
This vice president, who did not want his name to appear in print, was deeply concerned about coal’s future and expressed frustration with environmental attacks on coal, suggesting that it was all a problem of perception: “People don’t like coal because it’s black,” he told me.
“If it were white, all our problems would be solved.”
Yes, “if [only] it were white” … clean … not black coal, “Clean Coal“.
Goodall has, not surprisingly from him, written a powerfuland important post. Highlighting a critically true point.
In the end, the “clean coal” campaign is about using the tools of the 21st century to keep us locked in the 19th century. Like other greenwashing campaigns, it’s about using the iconography of sexy technology and down-home Americana to maintain the status quo.
The goal is not to solve our problems, but to perpetuate our addiction …
After decades of stoking the engines of denial and obfuscation on global warming, it’s nice that Big Coal wants to be a good citizen. But just because your pusher decides to shower and shave, don’t delude yourself into thinking that he cares about your welfare.
The pusher is still pushing a product that will kill us. Now, however, we know that which is driving them to sell us (and the US) a bill of goods in new packaging. Coal is Dirty will help us unwrap that fancy packaging and bring clarity to the discussion of the risks we face from our coal addiction.
Coal is Dirty wasn’t on my blogroll this morning , but it is now. It should be on yours as well.
PS: Make sure not to miss Coal is Clean. Well worth the visit as well.
“If it were white, all our problems would be solved.”