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Thursday, March 05, 2009

"Clean" Coal and "Healthy" Cigarettes - Coal Industry Huckster Won't Admit Burning Coal Causes Climate Change

Joe Lucas has a hard job. He's the PR huckster that heads up the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, the front group that shills for the coal industry.

As you can see in the video below, no matter how many times he watches "Thank You for Smoking," Lucas just can't quite pull off the irresistibly charismatic charm of Aaron Eckhart's Nick Naylor, the movie's lead character who spins Big Tobacco's lies so effortlessly. To be fair, when your industry keeps bumbling around, letting off billion gallon toxic coal sludge spills, indescrimantly blasting the tops off of entire mountains, and buying off West Virginia judges, it's hard to stay ahead of reality.

While he can't pull off the style, Lucas sure is taking notes from Big Tobacco when it comes to his talking points: in an interview on CNN last night, Mr. Lucas refused to answer a simple yes or no question about whether or not the burning of coal contributed to climate change.

His answer? "I'm not a scientist." Nice dodge!

Well Joe, neither am I, but I can read, and I'm pretty sure the science is in. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (which I'm pretty sure includes two or three scientists) stated with greater than 90% certainty that greenhouse gas emissions like the CO2 spewed from coal plants causes climate change. Check out the video below the fold (Lucas's BS is about 2:00 mins in)...

Mr. Lucas was spurred to defend himself in a comment at Grist, where Kate Sheppard calls attention to his shenanigans.

There are two sides to every story, and that is certainly the case when it comes to the CNN interview discussed above.

When the interview aired, CNN played only part of a quote in which I said "I'm not a scientist" when asked whether or not emissions from coal plants contributed to climate change.

Here's what you didn't hear: I pointed out that the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has a whole list of things about which there is great certainty, other things about which there is some certainty, and still other things about which there is less certainty. We do know that there has been an increases in greenhouse gas emissions and that some warming has taken place.

According to the IPCC, the exact extent that human-made emissions will contribute to climate change is less certain. However, the remaining uncertainties do not provide a reason to not take action.

Especially when you take into consideration the advances that we are making with advanced clean coal technologies to capture and store CO2 from power plants.

By focusing on technology to ensure a cost-effective means of meeting new emissions standards, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote energy independence, create jobs and keep energy costs affordable for American businesses and families.
Ah shucks Joe... almost, almost admitted that the industry you shill for is the leading contributor to climate change. Almost. It was a great effort, and I really appreciate it. Really.

While you're here, Joe, I'm wondering if you can tell me what "advance clean coal technologies" you are working on to stop the unequivocally dirty and horrendously devastating impacts of the mountaintop removal coal mining your industry practices? I assume since you are a proponent of "clean" coal, you are in support of the Clean Water Protection Act introduced in Congress yesterday, which would reinstate sane environmental protections that, you know, prevent the dumping of entire mountains on top of streams and valleys. I assume you'll join me in championing the Clean Water Protection Act to help clean up the coal industry...

And of course, when you say scientists are "less certain" that "human-made emissions will contribute to climate change" what you really mean is that they are more than 90% certain (rather than 100% certain I guess). Well you are right there. Remember though: this is scientific consensus, and expressions of scientific certainty don't get much stronger than that. Gravity is still a theory, after all.

Hat tip to Josh Dorner at HuffingtonPost, Kevin Grandia at DeSmogBlog and Kate Sheppard at Grist for being all over this one like a PR huckster on a steaming pile of industry bull$ite

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