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Coal: Unplugged

The coal industry is hoping that a $35 million media blitz can clean up its image and help head off climate change legislation in Congress but, hopefully, the American public is smart enough to recognize a pig wearing lipstick when it sees one. Steve Mufson’s article, “Coal Industry Plugs Into the Campaign,” in the WaPo paints a picture of an industry with its back against the wall.

The ads, paid for by the industry-backed Americans for Balanced Energy Choices, tout coal as a “clean” energy alternative without mentioning one of the major concerns about coal plants — the amount of carbon dioxide they emit into the atmosphere. It’s CO2 and other greenhouse gases that scientists have linked to global warming. And currently, CO2 emissions from coal plants are unregulated.

Mufson writes:

The group’s message — that coal-fired power plants can be clean, and that more of them are needed to meet the growing demand for electricity — comes when opposition to new coal plants is mounting because they generate greenhouse gases. In Kansas, where a state agency rejected a permit for two proposed coal plants, opinion polls show that roughly two out of three people opposed the plants. That sentiment, plus soaring construction costs and uncertainty about federal climate change legislation, last year prompted U.S. companies to abandon or postpone plans to build dozens of new coal plants.

Jeff Biggers writes more about it at the Huffington Post, where he castigates the presidential candidates for their unwillingness to stand up against King Coal. “Bottom line: Despite their inspiring speeches on global warming and environmental protection and workplace safety, the Democrats have bought into the same sham of coal’s reemergence as a ‘clean’ source of energy for the future,” Biggers writes.

Coal isn’t the answer to our energy needs. According to research by Coal Moratorium NOW! and the Rainforest Action Network, 59 proposed coal-fired plants were canceled or shelved in 2007. Matt Leonard writes about it on Understory, RAN’s blog.

Some of those plants that bit the dust were in Texas, where Public Citizen was actively involved in fighting several proposed facilities. As we mentioned in an earlier post, Robert Redford produced and narrated a documentary about the Texas fight.

RAN also has some links to some other coal fact sheets.