'Clean coal' debate plays out on the airwaves

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

From a story by Quinn Bowman posted at the Online NewsHour With Jim Lehrer:

American television audiences are likely noticing a battle being waged during commercial breaks as millions of dollars are being spent on advertising to promote or denigrate a mysterious-sounding buzzword: clean coal technology.

In an ad produced by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a coal industry group, then-candidate Barack Obama tells a cheering crowd that he wants to create new clean energy jobs with clean coal technology. "Yes we can," the crowd chants.

Rival organization the Reality Coalition, made up of environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Foundation, produced a spot with a mock salesman touting clean coal technology as he sprays an aerosol can of soot inside a family's home.

The public relations battle is the face of an ongoing debate among environmentalists, the government and the coal industry about how to contend with the massive amounts of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by coal-burning power plants.