The day the (coal) music died

Bye-bye, Miss American Pie.
Drove my Chevy to the levee,
But the levee was under a half mile of rubble from a mountaintop that had been decapitated….

Okay, I’m no Don McClean, but then neither is the ACCCE (American Coalition for Clean Coal Euphemisms?). We’re still two weeks from Christmas, but the coal industry front group has yanked its offensive “lumps of coal sing bastardized Christmas carols” video. The explanation offered:

We had fun this week with the Clean Coal Carolers and hope you enjoyed them. Now it’s time for them to head home for the holidays. Season’s greetings from America’s Power!

Treehugger still has the videos here along with a blogosphere round-up of snarkiness and some great NRDC parodies of the parodies. ThinkProgress notes that even while removing the videos, the industry flacks still defended them:

ACCCE did not find the mockery of its holiday campaign amusing. In fact, yesterday it published a touchy blog post defending its use of “Silent Night” — a song about the birth of Jesus Christ — to sell dirty energy. “I’ll put my years as a Sunday school teacher, church deacon and church musician up against just about anybody else when it comes to understanding hymnology and respect for religious traditions,” wrote ACCCE’s VP for Communications Joe Lucas. Nonetheless, it took down the “Silent Night” song.

If it’s true that ACCCE had intended this to be a short-lived campaign, it’s odd that they never previously mentioned that fact — and even odder that the entire campaign would have to be scrubbed from the website….

FLASHBACK: Americans for Balanced Energy Choices — which became ACCCE — was forced to take down a promotional campaign last February, after ThinkProgress documented physicians’ objections to using children as spokesmen for dirty coal.

And in the streets: the children screamed,
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.
But not a word was spoken;
The church bells all were broken.
And the three men I admire most:
The father, son, and the holy ghost,
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died.

6 Responses to The day the (coal) music died

  1. Rick says:

    one defence of “clean coal” according to the website there has been a substantial reduction of particulates over the years – which is what really makes people sick. So I would cut them just a little slack for the “clean” tag. It’s not as smoggy as it used to be.

  2. jcwinnie says:

    Question 3.14

    Miss American Pie, is, as his story tells us, the name of …

    a) the Obama’s new dog

    b) the name Dr. Chu has given to his new, nuclear powered limousine

    c) a World War bomber

    d) a favorite dessert served in the Senate dining hall.

  3. Mark Shapiro says:

    As soon as we turn our backs, they are going to throw every single one of those cute Coal Carolers in the roaring fire of a coal-fired power plant. Those poor innocents become part of a never ending stream of horrified Coal Carolers sent to their doom by voracious Big Coal.

    Shorter ACCCE: “Burn, baby, burn!”

  4. Rick C says:

    Getting the coal singers to do Christmas carols is to Christmas music what Michael Moore did to Philip-Morris during their little Christmas shindig by getting people with throat cancer to sing, “Deck the Halls”.

  5. John Mashey says:

    This article was extremely useful, because today on NPR “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” included the clean coal carol story as one of the three “completely crazed stories of which one is true”, and for once, I knew which one,.

  6. Coal is mostly carbon, but the complete list of impurities in coal includes almost every element in the periodic table. The major impurities are, depending on where you found it are: URANIUM, ARSENIC, LEAD, MERCURY, Antimony, Cobalt, Nickel, Copper, Selenium, Barium, Fluorine, Silver, Beryllium, Iron, Sulfur, Boron, Titanium, Cadmium, Magnesium, Calcium, Manganese, Vanadium, Chlorine, Aluminum, Chromium, Molybdenum and Zinc. Coal smoke and cinders are commercially viable ORE for the above elements. Chinese industrial grade coal contains much more arsenic than American coal. Chinese industrial grade coal is sometimes stolen by peasants for cooking. The result is that the whole family dies of arsenic poisoning. Coal varies a lot. You have to analyze it not only mine by mine but even lump by lump. Coal is a rock. It comes out of the ground. What would you expect of a rock? Coal also contains organics. When they dump overburden, it inevitably contains “stony coal,” by which I mean a combination of ordinary rock and coal.
    by Alex Gabbard
    Oak Ridge National Laboratory
    Oak Ridge, TN
    Selections from the 19th Annual Conference
    March 14,15,16, 1996
    Nashville, Tennessee

    Published by the
    Edited by Jack D. Arters, Ed.D.
    Conference Director
    The truth is, all natural rocks contain most natural elements. Coal is a rock. The average concentration of uranium in coal is 1 or 2 parts per million. Illinois coal contains up to 103 parts per million uranium. A 1000 million watt coal fired power plant burns 4 million tons of coal each year. If you multiply 4 million tons by 1 part per million, you get 4 tons of uranium. Most of that is U238. About .7% is U235. 4 tons = 8000 pounds. 8000 pounds times .7% = 56 pounds of U235. An average 1000 million watt coal fired power plant puts out 56 to 112 pounds of U235 every year. There are only 2 places the uranium can go: Up the stack or into the cinders.

    “Modern electrostatic precipitator plants are capable of operating at greater than 99.5% collection efficiency but can still release 35 lb/year of uranium as just one component in almost 3 million tons of ash vented through stacks. In addition to this radiological species, all the radon in coal is released during combustion. An estimate for average Rn-222 release is about 2 Curies/year for each 1000 MWe coal fired facility15.”

    Since a reactor full fuel load is around 11 tons of 2% U235 and 98% U238, and one load lasts about 10 years, and what one coal fired power plant puts into the air and cinders fully fuels a nuclear power plant.
    Compare 4 Million tons per year with 1.1 tons per year. 1.1 divided by 4 Million = 2.75 E -7 = .000000275 =.0000275%. Remember that only 2% of that is U235. The nuclear power plant needs ~44 pounds of U235 per year. The coal fired power plant burns coal by the trainload. The nuclear power plant consumes U235 in such small quantities yearly that you could carry that much weight in a briefcase. The full fuel load and the years between fueling varies from reactor to reactor, but one truck can carry the weight of a full nuclear fuel load.
    See also: