‘Clean Coal’ Front Group Opposes Global Warming Bill with Billions for Clean Coal

This post was co-written by Daniel J. Weiss, a Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and Alexandra Kougentakis, a Center for American Progress Action Fund Fellows Assistant.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity — a front group of big utilities and coal companies — has long professed “support for a mandatory federal plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” But now that the House of Representatives is poised to vote on the American Clean Energy and Security Act, H.R. 2454, ACCCE’s true colors are showing — coal black

In a new ad in Politico (see right), that was published yesterday, ACCCE describes the greenhouse gas pollution reductions in H.R. 2454 as a “high risk proposition.”

America’s Power Army, ACCCE’s grassroots arm, sent an email to its members urging that they “e-mail your Member of Congress today and tell him or her to add consumer protections to the climate change bill.” Never mind that the bill DOES safeguard consumers and broad sectors of the economy from higher prices. Potential increases in energy costs are mitigated through the distribution of allowances, as well as through an Energy Refund Program for low-income ratepayers.

A top priority for ACCCE is money for research for clean coal technology — carbon capture and storage. H.R. 2454 has $60 billion for CCS. The EPA estimates that this funding would make CCS commercially viable by 2015. Yet ACCCE still opposes the bill.  In addition to the vast amount of CCS money, H.R. 2454 has a number of provisions consistent with ACCCE’s “Climate Principles.” Four of the principles demand federal support for carbon capture and sequestration technology, which H.R. 2454 strongly meets through both funding and public-private sector partnerships.

The table after the jump indicates each of the climate principles with the degree of its fulfillment by H.R. 2454.

ACCE PrincipleH.R. 2454 includes similar measure?Guarantee, through public-private sector partnerships, aggressive, 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.YesEstablish a legal, regulatory and long-term liability framework to safely store CO2.PartialPromote the deployment to other nations of advanced U.S.-developed technologies to avoid, reduce, capture, transport, and safely store CO2.YesPromote the deployment to other nations of advanced U.S.-developed technologies to avoid, reduce, capture, transport, and safely store CO2.YesEnsure that any mandatory requirements (cap levels, compliance deadlines, etc.) be reasonable and recognize that many of the technologies needed to reduce manmade greenhouse gas emissions from new or existing fossil-fueled generating stations are not yet commercially available.YesProtect American consumers and the U.S. economy through effective cost-containment measures. For example, if a cap-and-trade program were to be implemented, it would be essential to have fair and equitable allocation of emission allowances, as well as to establish a ceiling price for carbon that is certain and reasonable.YesAllow broad use of verifiable actions to offset manmade greenhouse gas emissions.YesAfford full credit for verifiable early actions that avoid, reduce, or capture and store manmade greenhouse gases.PartialAvoid a patchwork of conflicting standards or duplicative programs through the adoption of a uniform federal program.PartialEncompass economy-wide domestic actions and cover all major manmade greenhouse gases.YesPreserve reliability of the electricity generation, transmission, and distribution system.YesPromote energy security and reliability by encouraging maximum utilization of domestic resources to generate electricity.PartialMaintain America’s competitiveness in a global economy.Yes

ACCCE’s opposition to H.R. 2454 contradicts their millions of dollars of ads about using “clean coal” to slow global warming. Despite such proselytizing about clean coal, the 48 ACCCE companies invest relatively few dollars in research to develop carbon capture and storage. An analysis by the Center for American Progress found that for every dollar of profit in from 2003–2008, the ACCCE companies invested less than two cents in carbon capture and sequestration research.

ACCCE’s opposition to H.R. 2454 comes the same week that the U.S. Global Change Research Program documents the harms from global warming in “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States.” The report warned “Unless the rate of emissions is substantially reduced, impacts are expected to become increasingly severe for more people and places.”

H.R. 2454 would require such pollution reductions and prevent the devastating impacts of a 9–11ºF rise in temperatures — but it must first pass Congress. ACCCE joins big oil and other polluters in efforts to block solutions. ACCCE, ads and rhetoric aside, is a big part of the problem in the battle against global warming.