Coal CEO: ‘Clean Coal’ Is The Future, But ‘We Have Not Invested Any Dollars In The Technology, Per Se’

Yesterday, CBS’s 60 Minutes ran a segment about the coal industry, interviewing Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers. Duke is one of the largest electricity companies in the country, and it owns dozens of coal plants nationwide. Last month, the company announced plans for a new 800-megawatt coal-fired plant in North Carolina, and it plans to continue building coal plants.

CBS’s Scott Pelley asked Rogers how he feels about global warming given that his coal plants continue to billow approximately 112 million tons of greenhouse gases. “We need to go to work on it now,” Rogers said. “It is critical that we start to act in this country.” Rogers’ solution? “We have to find a way to clean [coal] and use it,” he insisted. Yet Rogers actual plans to fight global warming are essentially non-existent:

Q: How much has Duke Energy invested in carbon sequestration technology so far?

ROGERS: We have not invested any dollars in the technology, per se. We have spent a lot of time and money reviewing and analyzing the various technologies. … While we haven’t spent the money on sequestration technology, we spent the time and energy and we’re going to co-invest with the government when this technology evolves.

“Our goal line is to substantially to reduce our carbon footprint, to decarbonize our business by 2050,” Rogers said. Pelley observed that “not even the industry that warns of the end of our way of life is paying for it.” Watch it:

“Clean coal,” of course, is a myth. Moreover, the pace of Rogers’ plans for “decarbonizing” his plants is pathetically slow. “2050 is too late, we would have guaranteed disasters,” NASA scientist Jim Hansen told Pelley. “We are going to have to phase out emissions from coal in the next 20 years.” “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late,” said IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pauchauri.


So how is Big Coal investing its money? ACCCE — a group of 48 big coal and utility companies, including Duke — has a communications budget for 2009 of $40 million, higher than last year. In 2008, the group spent $10.5 million to lobby Congress and roughly 40 percent of ACCCE’s spending that year was on ads trumpeting “clean coal.” Joe Lucas, spokesman for ACCCE, said last month that he “doesn’t know” if coal fuels global warming. In the meantime, Rogers is busy lobbying against President Obama’s green economy plan, which actually would spur carbon sequestration by pricing pollution.

“We know clean coal is not around the corner,” former senator John Warner, who represented the coal-producing state Virginia, told Congress last week. Indeed.