Report: The Clean Coal Smoke Screen

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on December 27, 2008

“A series of feel-good ads this year showcased a variety of people straight from central casting: the feisty grandma, the hip-looking teacher, the salt-of-the earth farmer. They all communicated the same message: “I believe in…” the future, technology, American ingenuity. Only at the end do we learn what they all believe in: “Clean Coal. America’s Power.”

These ads were sponsored by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, an industry group comprised of 48 coal and utility companies. ACCCE spent at least $45 million on advertising this year to convince Americans that “clean coal” is the solution to global warming. The ACCCE companies claim that they “are committed to making coal a clean energy source.” Yet the coal mining and electric utility industries spent over $125 million combined in the first nine months of 2008 to lobby Congress to delay global warming pollution reductions until clean coal technology is ready.

Despite the ads’ claims, an analysis by the Center of American Progress determined that ACCCE’s companies spend relatively few dollars conducting research on carbon capture and storage, the most promising clean coal technology to reduce global warming pollution from coal-fired power plants. This technology would allow power plants to capture 85 percent or more of their carbon dioxide emissions and permanently store them underground in geological formations.

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