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Coal Industry “Principles”?

April 22nd, 2008 · 2 Comments

The Coal Industry came a callin’, complaining that I had not adequately examined their “principles” in commenting on the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity’s (ACCCE’s) new advertising campaign that bears an unnerving similarity to wording from Senator Obama’s Presidential campaign and from Al Gore’s We campaign.  Their comment (complaint):

By concentrating on the name change, as you do, you glossed over the REAL news about the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity:

For the first time, we have over 40 coal-related companies agreeing to federal regulation of carbon dioxide, provided our 12 principles are met.

Is this “REAL news” or is that “provided” an opening for a subordinate clause that is dominant? 

Let’s take a look.

ACCCE has put forward a four-page statement of “mission and legislative principles“.   This opens

ACCCE advocates public policies that advance environmental improvement, economic prosperity, and energy security. 

 Okay, I have to take a pause. Energize America “advocates public policies that advance environmental improvement, economic prosperity, and energy security.”  We’re in total agreement, at least for one sentence. From here on out, it is downhill. While there are snippets of value, what is the real core point of ACCCE’s advocacy

  • Coal industry merits unconstrained commitments from the American people that measures to deal with Global Warming will not hurt the coal industry.
  • That, in the face of serious technical uncertainties, America must commit to  (”guarantee”) unlimited resources dedicated to carbon capture and sequestration.

One has to wonder whether these four pages were written with a serious face or if they are meant to be taken as a joke.   We see that ACCCE pinciples include that

“federal legislation must …

Guarantee … near- and long-term investments in new, advanced technologies that 1) avoid or reduce CO2 emissions, 2) capture, transport, and safely store CO2, and 3) use CO2 in beneficial ways, whenever practical.”

Hmmm.  First, this is typical denier language: technology uber all. More importantly, do we think ACCCE would be satisfied if investments in “1″ worked well enough so that the entire question of CO2 capture became irrelevant. What if renewable energy and energy efficiency made coal-fired electricity obsolete? Would that be an acceptable outcome for ACCCE?  For some reason, that seems doubtful.  Perhaps the following points to the impossibility of that being acceptable:

ACCCE supports an integrated US climate strategy that … values coal’s vital role in America’s energy future … 

If coal is not centerpiece forever, then it isn’t a legitimate approach. (Yes, I do recognize that this is the industry association.)

Others than the coal industry should pay for development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) and “the federal government must limit … industries’ liability”.  “Federal legislation should require the Department of State …” to send US technology overseas that will conduct CCS from coal sold from places formerly known as mountains

Etc …

Yes, it does look to be news that “over 40 coal-related companies [are] agreeing to federal regulation of carbon dioxide”.  Consider that dominating subordinate clause (”provided our 12 principles are met”), this “news” is about as meaningful (i.e., near meaningless …) as George W. Bush’s words about ending the growth in Global Warming emissions by 2025.

For another’s read on the “principles,” we can look to OregonJ, who summarizes the four pages as follows:

The coal industry supports carbon regulations if no limits are placed on building new coal-fired power plants without CCS, that no liability for the failure of any sequestration plan be placed on the polluter, that no state be able to limit GHG emissions, and that, until that day when (if ever) the coal folks come up with a CCS widget, that there be unlimited   CO2 emissions from the burning of coal that can be offset by somebody else’s actions.    Oh, I almost forgot one principle, the coal industry wants about $200 billion taxpayer dollars to figure out this CCS thing.

 

Tags: Global Warming · astroturfing · carbon dioxide · climate change · coal · environmental · government energy policy

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