If you thought you’ve heard it all before, you are so, so naive. In an unintentionally brilliant parody of The Onion, a major coal industry front group has put online what I can only describe as pagan greenwashing, “America’s Power Clean Coal Carolers“ — something guaranteed to offend everybody.
Yes, lumps of coal are singing the most grotesque and bastardized version of beloved Christmas carols:
Frosty the coal man is a jolly happy soul…
There must be magic in clean coal technology
For when they looked for pollutants
There was nearly none to see.
And this is the least offsensive one. Note to industry: Clean coal is magical in the way Harry Potter is magical — neither of them exist in the real world. That’s why you can’t see the pollutants, the power plants are invisible themselves.
In the twisted minds of the industry Mad Men who put this together, it makes perfect sense to turn songs about the birth of Jesus into songs about “clean coal.”
And yes, each of the carolers has a name and an attitude, just like the Spice Girls, if the Spice Girls were a leading cause of cardiopulmonary illness, that is. My favorite is Tiffany. I think I love her, cough, cough.
I’d say clean coal had jumped the shark, but I think you have to actually exist first before you can become self-parody. Perhaps I need to add a new Climate Progress category for “unintentional humor.” And isn’t putting a lump of coal in a stocking how we used to punish children?
Please do go to the Facebook page of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity Carolers and mock them mercilessly as some fans have done, like Mercury (pictured here), or post the truth about coal on their Wall.
I’m not sure what else to do at this point except keep reminding people that clean coal is clap trap. Clean coal is clap trap!
I could also reprint the Union of Concerned Scientists statistics:
The 1,430,000 tons of coal burned in a typical 500 megawatt coal plant produces:
–3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas, and is the leading cause of global warming. There are no regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S.
–10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide (SOx) is the main cause of acid rain, which damages forests, lakes and buildings.
–10,200 tons of nitrogen oxide. Nitrogen oxide (NOx) is a major cause of smog, and also a cause of acid rain.
–500 tons of small particles. Small particulates are a health hazard, causing lung damage. Particulates smaller than 10 microns are not regulated, but may be soon.
–220 tons of hydrocarbons. Fossil fuels are made of hydrocarbons; when they don’t burn completely, they are released into the air. They are a cause of smog.
–720 tons of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas and contributor to global warming.
–125,000 tons of ash and 193,000 tons of sludge from the smokestack scrubber. A scrubber uses powdered limestone and water to remove pollution from the plant’s exhaust. Instead of going into the air, the pollution goes into a landfill or into products like concrete and drywall. This ash and sludge consists of coal ash, limestone, and many pollutants, such as toxic metals like lead and mercury.
–225 pounds of arsenic, 114 pounds of lead, 4 pounds of cadmium, and many other toxic heavy metals. Mercury emissions from coal plants are suspected of contaminating lakes and rivers in northern and northeast states and Canada. In Wisconsin alone, more than 200 lakes and rivers are contaminated with mercury. Health officials warn against eating fish caught in these waters, since mercury can cause birth defects, brain damage and other ailments. Acid rain also causes mercury poisoning by leaching mercury from rocks and making it available in a form that can be taken up by organisms.
–Trace elements of uranium. All but 16 of the 92 naturally occurring elements have been detected in coal, mostly as trace elements below 0.1 percent (1,000 parts per million, or ppm). A study by DOE’s Oak Ridge National Lab found that radioactive emissions from coal combustion are greater than those from nuclear power production.
Clean coal is clap trap!
- Yes, even low levels of radiation cause harm — and coal plants are worse than nuclear plants*
- In seeming flipflop, Bush drops mismanaged ‘NeverGen’ clean coal project
- Solar baseload outshines ‘clean coal’ — and it always will
- Breaking News: No new coal plants without “Best Available Control Technology” for CO2
- Revealing comments on coal from Obama
- Hansen et al: We must phase-out coal emissions by 2030 and stabilize at or below 350 ppm