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“Clean” Coal? What?! Wake Up America!

Avatar for Dave Llorens
Published on 09/07/2008 in
Updated 01/30/2014

I don’t know about the rest of you, but every time I hear the term, “clean coal power” and the millions of taxpayer dollars Republicans are intending to throw at it, I get a little nauseous. Clean coal? Are we living in a dark fairy tale? How can we listen to Republican leaders spewing these words and not raise a rebuke? Why do I feel like I’m in the silent minority when thinking Republicans, all dressed up with folksy narrative, are so naked underneath?

The same confident, “I almost failed out of school”, let’s go “field-dress a moose” language gushing from the pen’s of McCain and Palin’s speechwriters mirror that of Bush’s in 2000. They didn’t even bother to change the sentence structure from eight years ago. The only media member who seems to think this is alarming and disturbing enough to report is Jon Stewart. Watch this clip. No, really, please watch this:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DshaTkR3ZY[/youtube]

The same speechwriting team bringing some of our citizens to their feet in warm regard and support of the least approved president in American history (twice!) are at it again.

The simple idea of coal being somehow “clean” compared to renewable energy is laughable. It is coal. Packaging it and selling it as “clean” is like wrapping up dog poop and.. you know? I’m not even going to bother with an analogy here. Short story is, coal is a filthy mess. Ever picked up some charcoal? Hands afterward? Right. Black as night. We burn this stuff to get energy. Disgusting.

Yet, legislative leaders in states like West Virginia, Alabama, and Kentucky insist millions of dollars in subsidies and R&D dollars are warranted to create “clean” coal. Nobody in the media seems to ask questions about why this is acceptable or even a plausible idea. Hmm. I wonder why that is? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that 5 corporations replete with shareholders expecting solid quarterly returns filter your national news to suit advertisers.

It makes sense that Republican leaders would want to re-brand coal. After all, it has been the bread and butter paycheck of their constituents for a very long time. Phasing coal out of those energy portfolios might be equivalent to Uncle Cletus alerting the family that he’s gay. [email protected]!

From a very well constructed Alternet post on the attempt to pull the wool over our eyes:

Scientists and environmentalists contend “clean coal” does not exist; it is a misnomer and an oxymoron. The National Resources Defense Council says that using the term “clean coal” makes about as much sense as saying “safe cigarettes.” The extraction and cleaning of coal inevitably decimates ecosystems and communities.

So, right-wing policymakers and shrewd coal industry lobbyists have called for a cleaner, softer, and kinder coal. You know, the type of coal that makes you all warm and fuzzy inside and lulls you to sleep while it lazily plucks away on a harp? Never heard of that coal before?

Well, you could take a bath with it if you want:

Oh, and trees and mountains love clean coal. Just like old friends!

The well financed, borderline criminal coal industry spin machine is in full swing:

Playing on stereotypes and employing scare tactics about the unpredictability of the Middle East, the coal industry is developing a Frankenstein-like future for U.S. energy needs…In Kansas, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius recently blocked plans for two coal-fired electricity plants; afterward, on Nov. 5, a full page ad in Kansas newspapers explained that now, because of Sebelius’ decision, “Kansas will import more natural gas from countries like Russia, Venezuela and Iran.” The ad displayed the grinning faces of the leaders of these countries and continued, “Without new coal-fueled plants in our state, experts predict that electric bills will skyrocket and Kansans will be more dependent than ever on hostile, foreign energy sources.” In fact, Kansas exports natural gas to other states, and the United States does not even import natural gas from Russia, Venezuela or Iran, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Guess whose hip pockets the industry is in?

Excerpted from Palin’s acceptance speech last week:

“Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we’re going to lay more pipelines … build more nuclear plants … create jobs with clean coal … and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal and other alternative sources.”

Did you see that? They’re gonna create jobs with clean coal! As for those other “alternative energies”? Yeah, let’s move forward with them by not really creating jobs. Excellent. Instead, lets open our pockets to big oil and drill some more. Then wait! We don’t have enough cash and we’re counting on the votes of all those great folks in Appalachia who need not be bothered with sex education or literacy. They’re such proud Americans! Let’s make their coal mining jobs respectable in this green new world. Clean-Coal! U-S-A! Clean-Coal! U-S-A!

How about Mr. McCain’s acceptance speech?

My fellow Americans, when I’m president…we will produce more energy at home. We will drill new wells offshore, and we’ll drill them now. We will build more nuclear power plants. We will develop clean coal technology. We will increase the use of wind, tide, solar and natural gas. We will encourage the development and use of flex-fuel, hybrid and electric automobiles.

There you have it, both members of the Republican 2008 ticket. Drilling for oil. Cleaning up coal. Just as a side, did you see how McCain emphasized his words above? You may be thinking: “Emphasized what? At least he said they were going to include cleaner cars and wind, tide, solar. What’s your problem??”.

Look closely:

“We will develop clean coal technology”.

That, friends, is a commitment.

Whereas this?:

“We will encourage the development and use of [all those renewables].”

“Encouraging development” is not a commitment. That statement, clear as day is a, “We’ll get out of the way if necessary, it’d be nice if those technologies got going on their own.”

All I can think of right now are three words, uttered a multitude of times by the only politician I really felt spoke from his heart at either convention. You can see it in his conviction. While nobody was really there to see his speech, plenty took note. Please, as Dennis Kucinich implores of us, Wake Up America!! Wake. The. @#$^. Up!!!

Last modified: January 30, 2014

10 thoughts on ““Clean” Coal? What?! Wake Up America!

  1. Avatar for Mark Mirin Mark Mirin says:

    Coal is used to generate 40% of the world’s electricity, and that percentage is INCREASING, not decreasing. It is silly to imagine that solar/wind can instantly replace the fossil fuels used for transportation today and to generate power. Power plants today capture the sulphur in coal before combustion, and the CCS processes capture 90% of the CO2 in power plant exhaust by liquid absorption and then storage as deeply as 2.1 miles underground in brine layered sandstone (as in Saskatchewan). China is stil building one new coal-fired power plant EVERY WEEK. It makes sense to use technologies to sequester carbon and sulphur form coal while new and cleaner fuel sources are developed. While increased use of nuclear, solar and wind power could replace some coal, gas and oil-fired power plants, they are not an option for most current industrial sources of carbon dioxide.Remeber the President Obama’s energy strategy of “all of the above,” or was that simply lip service to the voters?

  2. Avatar for Mark Mirin Mark Mirin says:

    Clean coal is low-suphur coal, and is to high sulphur coal what unleaded gasoline has been to leaded gasoline.

  3. Avatar for Dan Hahn Dan Hahn says:

    Kermit,

    From the beginning of the campaign, I knew both candidates would need to be pumping clean coal, otherwise they’d have no shot at being elected. Way too many coal jobs in Appalachia.

    I’m not surprised then to see Obama continue to support “cleaner” coal. However, I’m looking for more of an integration of alternative energy sources into our mix. Not only does this diversify and stabilize our energy grid, but it also can strengthen our economy and create a lot of jobs.

    I’m looking for more clean energy legislation to come to pass in the coming months. Hopefully it’s still on his radar. Our economy almost collapsed a few months ago and I’ve got a feeling even $828 billion isn’t gonna cut it. Needs to be more like 4 or 5 trillion at this point.

    We’ll see.

    Thanks for your question and cheers,

    – Dan

  4. Avatar for kermit kermit says:

    So how do you feel now that Obama is in favor of this technology as well as the evil Bush? Just curious.

  5. Avatar for Dan Hahn Dan Hahn says:

    Kent,

    I’d love for more conservatives to speak up on the site. Makes for entertaining reading.

    Thanks for your kind words!

  6. Avatar for CelticSolar CelticSolar says:

    Here is my favorite commentary on clean coal:
    http://celticsolar.blogspot.com/2008/05/clean-coal.html

    Coaloligests have scientifically proven desootification technologies that make dirty clean and bubblegum gardens.

  7. Avatar for Kent Kent says:

    Dan,

    I was surfing from one website to another, reading all about solar energy, when “BAM” I ran into yours. I was hooked from line one, I couldn’t stop reading, and the videos were outstanding – very appropriate, really drove your points home. “Well done, my friend – you don’t have to be old to open your eye’s.” And I’ve met a lot of adults with their heads in the sand. So keep doing what it is you’re doing, making a difference, and I’ll tell everyone I know to wake the F#@% up. Maybe I should start with Douglas. Doug, don’t believe everything you read, and please, try not to believe everything you’re told. I mean, get real – what are these new upgrades utilized by the Legacy coal plants? Did they come with a CO2 sucker and the always popular flux capacitor? Anyway, I guess I’ll look into it, and return with some information in the not so distant future.

    Your New Fan: Kent

  8. Avatar for Dan Hahn Dan Hahn says:

    If you only wish to pillory the straw man; posture and preen before the “Green Citizen,” and have no real conversation, real discussion, that is your prerogative.

    Douglas,

    Thank you kindly for your very well worded rebuttal. Clearly, I come off as a flaming liberal. Because, let’s face it, I am.

    However, in order to have a smart discussion on the subject, I am counting on more conservatives such as yourself to come along and possibly say why I am so wrong and offer interesting alternatives to consider.

    That type of discussion is something I would like to see a whole lot more of on SPR. Though it may appear I am “preening to green citizens” and I am preaching to a small minority of a choir, I am counting on our readers to arm themselves with enough other information so that they can come to conclusions about these important subjects on their own without it being spoon-fed to them through the media.

    Again Douglas, I’m very glad you took the time to reply. I also hope to see you on the discussion boards in the future. If you’d like to write a guest post on our website any time, please send me an email. Varying points of view about these subjects are integral to our strength.

    By the way, that wasn’t dirt in the tub, it was coal residue.

  9. Avatar for Douglas Douglas says:

    When I found your blog linked on Motherearthnews.com I was intrigued; even excited. I have a healthy desire to see more Americans become independent, to take control of their energy needs, and I strive for this for my family also. The three Rs stand us all in good stead.
    On the other hand, I have delivered retrofit/upgrade parts to legacy coal plants in the midwest. After delivery, when time allows, I visit the contractors’ offices, and always receive a warm welcome, when I ask that they explain what they are doing, and what the point is. The stats are clear: the pollution produced by these legacy coal plants is almost completely scrubbed by these new upgrades. Where the gentleman filling his tub with rusty water is, I’ve no idea, but introducing irrelevancies into the debate just degrades our converse. Have no doubt, we conservatives (read: people interested in conservation) seem far more open minded by contrast to your flaming posts. Sad enough, believe me; as I cannot seem to trust my politicians either. The point is: If you continue to talk past us, and believe we conservative wish for dirty water, air and soil, you’ll never be any closer to your goals, which believe it or not, are not that far from our goals.
    If you only wish to pillory the straw man; posture and preen before the “Green Citizen,” and have no real conversation, real discussion, that is your prerogative. I’ll be disappointed, but not shocked. But then, I’ve been disappointed in bright young minds before, when they become canalized, tunnedlized, closed.
    Don’t close your mind!
    Good luck, good thoughts, good works!

  10. Avatar for Emiliano Jordan Emiliano Jordan says:

    Yeah but if the GOP doesn’t get their pay checks from “clean coal” how else will they put shoes on their feet!!!

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