According to eYale360:
You have also to hand it to the folks at R&R Partners. They’re the clever advertising agency that made its name luring legions of suckers to Las Vegas with an ad campaign built on the slogan “What happens here, stays here.”
However R&R has now topped itself. Now with its ad campaign pairing two of the least compatible words in the English language: “Clean Coal.”
“Clean” is not a word that normally leaps to mind for a commodity some spoilsports associate with unsafe mines. As well as mountaintop removal, acid rain, black lung, lung cancer, asthma, mercury contamination, and, of course, global warming. And yet the phrase “clean coal” now routinely turns up in political discourse. It’s almost as if it were a reality.
The ads created by R&R tout coal as “an American resource.” In one Vegas-inflected version, Kool and the Gang sing “Ya-HOO!” as an electric wire gets plugged into a lump of coal. Then the narrator intones: “It’s the fuel that powers our way of life.” (“Celebrate good times, come on!”)
In addition and in a second ad predicts a future. One in which coal will generate power “with even lower emissions, including the capture and storage of CO2. It’s a big challenge, but we’ve made a commitment, a commitment to clean.”
Well, they’ve made a commitment to advertising, anyway. The campaign has been paid for by Americans for Balanced Energy Choices. One which bills itself as the voice of “over 150,000 community leaders from all across the country.”
So among those leaders, according to ABEC’s website, are an environmental consultant, an interior designer, and a “complimentary healer.”
Then other, arguably louder, voices in the group include the world’s biggest mining company (BHP Billiton), the biggest U.S. coal mining company (Peabody Energy). So the biggest publicly owned U.S. electric utility (Duke Energy) and the biggest U.S. railroad (Union Pacific).
Then ABEC, whose domain name is licensed to the Center for Energy and Economic Development. They are a coal-industry group that merged with CEED. All to form the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE).
They’re bankrolling the “Clean Coal” campaign to the tune of $35 million this year alone. That’s a little less than the tobacco industry spent on a successful fight against antismoking legislation in 1998, and almost triple what health insurers paid for the “Harry and Louise” ads that helped kill health care reform in the early 1990s. In addition to the ads, the “Clean Coal” campaign has so far also sponsored two presidential election debates (where, critics noted, no questions about global warming got asked).
Coal is also struggling to overcome fierce resistance at the state and local level. That’s in Kansas, Florida, Idaho, and California. For they have already effectively declared a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants.
Nationwide, 59 new coal-fired power plant projects died last year (of 151 proposed). All mostly because local authorities refused to grant permits or because big banks withheld financing. Both groups are alarmed about the lack of practical remedies to deal with coal’s massive CO2 emissions.
The coal industry is clearly alarmed, too. Because of its lack of continued ability to do business as usual. In addition to the “Clean Coal” ad campaign, the industry’s main lobbying group, the National Mining Association. It increased its budget by 20 percent to $19.7 million at one point.
All according to the Center for Responsive Politics, individual coal companies will spend an additional $7 million on lobbying. Coal industry PACs and employees also routinely donate $2-3 million per election cycle. Especially in contests for federal office. Altogether, that adds up to a substantial commitment to advertising and lobbying.
And the commitment to clean? The scale of the problem suggests that it needs to be big. Coal-fired power plants generate about 50 percent of the electricity in the United States. In 2006, they also produced 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s 36 percent of total U.S. emissions. For a remedy, the industry was banking on a proposed pilot plant called FutureGen. All which would have used coal gasification technology. All to separate out the carbon dioxide. Thereby allowing it to be pumped into underground storage.
But the federal government canceled that project. Most interestingly because of runaway costs. At last count, FutureGen was budgeted at $1.8 billion; with about $400 million of that coming from corporate partners over ten years. That is, the “commitment to clean” would have cost roughly as much per year as the industry is now spending on lobbying and “Clean Coal” advertising.
Air quality control is the big issue among the world’s coal industries at the moment. The world’s environment protection authorities have spoken. Air pollution limits will have to be adhered to across the industry, by collieries, coal fired industries and at all stages of plant operations that employ coal. Otherwise, coal industries face the risk of contributing more to environmental pollution than they bargained for.
There is strong competition in the energy market from cleaner alternative fuels like methane. But the technologies are still too expensive to replace coal. The only solution for coal industries is therefore to employ clean coal technology.
According to a report by the International Energy Agency in 2012, coal’s share in worldwide use of energy fuels has continued to rise. The IEA estimates that by 2017, as much as 4.32 billion tonnes of oil equivalent will be used worldwide.
But this optimistic report doesn’t take into account the fight put up by residents and activists in rallies across the world, complaining about the poor quality of air and water in their locality because of coal industry emissions. Environment authorities across the world are waking up to the air pollution that are created by coal mining and related industries.
How Coal Industries Affect Quality of Air, Health and the Environment
1. Coal dust is a problem wherever there are coal mines or wherever coal is transported through residential areas and cities. That and other particulate matter released during the different processes involving coal can cause a number of health problems, some of them fatal, if in excess.
Very small particulate matter carried by the air can enter our lungs and affect our health, sometimes leading to hospitalisation. If the people breathing in this air already have lung problems, they are going to bear the brunt of it. Other health problems include black lung disease (or coalworker’s pneumoconiosis) among miners and treatment plant workers, congestive heart failure, asthma attacks, chronic bronchitis and reduce life expectancy. Young children are also very susceptible to chronic lung problems.
It has been found that coal trains passing through a city’s outskirts can raise particulate air pollution by as much as 120% in many cases. Also, in general, coal trains were found to cause much more pollution than passenger trains and freight trains.
Coal-fired power stations that use wet cooling towers release fog and drift that also carry this particulate matter. These are breathed in by nearby workers and residents and lead to additional lung problems.
Coal mines also release gases like methane, which is a potential greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
Burning coal in plants releases the greenhouse gas CO2, sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and other toxic substances like sulphur nitrate and hydrogen cyanide. Haze created by these gases and particulate matter result in poor visibility.