Coal Industry Sponsoring Tonight’s CNN/YouTube Republican Presidential Debate

Tonight at 8 pm EST, CNN will air a Republican presidential debate, live from St. Petersburg, FL. A full-page advertisement in today’s Washington Post states that the debate is being sponsored by the “clean coal” industry:

View the full page ad HERE.

Sponsorship of tonight’s debate appears aimed at influencing Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), who is leading a “crusade against coal.” Crist has unveiled a plan to reduce his state’s carbon dioxide emissions by replacing coal plants with solar thermal power plants. He has also canceled plans to build new coal plants that were pushed by his predecessor, Jeb Bush.

In early October, when Tampa Electric shelved plans to build a $2-billion power plant, Crist applauded the move:

“I am not a fan of coal,” he reiterated. He pointed to the expansion of nuclear power, as well as recently announced solar and biomass projects, as examples of clean, reliable, affordable energy.

“There’s a lot of different ways to skin the cat and still provide the energy that Floridians need and deserve without harming Florida in the process,” Crist said.

This CNN debate isn’t the first sponsored by the coal industry. On Nov. 15, it also sponsored the Democratic debate in Las Vegas, NV, which featured a similar full-page ad in The New York Times. The move appeared to be an attempt to pressure Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who has stood firmly against the construction of three proposed major coal-fired power plants in his home state.


Today, the Center for American Progress released Progressive Growth, a new plan to create a low-carbon economy. Climate Progress has more on the plan.

UPDATE: ThinkProgress spoke to a Google representative who confirmed that having the coal industry sponsor the debate was a “CNN decision.” Google played no role in acquiring or approving the sponsorship.

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