We’re Misleading? Name One Incident! (We’re Still Waiting.)

Posted by Joe Lucas at 5:25 am, December 05, 2008

Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs personality indicator
test?  I have, and I am an ENFP (extraversion, intuition, feeling, perceiving) — the “most optimistic”
personality type. 

Perhaps it is because I’m optimistic about America’s
energy future that I was somewhat offended when the Reality Coalition — a new environmental organization that prefers mud-slinging to dealing with facts — implied that the American public was being
duped by our America's Power ads.

Is the Reality Coalition so cynical that it believes the American people are being misled? Are they uninterested in engaging us on the merits of the debate?

People who have been exposed to our advertising
campaign have not been misled! Here are the simple key facts of
our campaign:

  • * Access to electricity is
    a good thing, and lots of our electricity (over 50 percent) comes from coal;
  • * Coal is a domestically
    abundant energy resource (according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency,
    more than a 200 year supply are current usage levels);
  • * Generating electricity
    from coal is more affordable than other fuels (less than 1/3 the cost of
    natural gas, which, in most cases, is the nearest substitute for base load
    capacity demand that is met by coal);
  • * The use of technology
    has already made coal a cleaner energy option (reducing emissions of
    criteria and other hazardous air pollutants), and going forward new
    technologies will also make it possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
    in response to climate change concerns.

I defy the folks within the Reality Coalition (or anybody
else for that matter) to show how any one of these facts is not accurate or
where our campaign’s messages have go beyond these key points. 

Go ahead,
I’m waiting.

I will maintain my optimistic view, but I have to suspect
that this new ad has little to do with what this group believes is a
misstatement of facts, and more to do with how Americans are responding. 

More and more, Americans support the use of coal for
generating electricity in this country.  Our latest survey shows that 72 percent
of opinion leaders “support the use of coal to generate electricity” and 69 percent say that “coal is a fuel for America’s
future.”

Again, I have great confidence in the American people. I
know that you’re not fooled as easily as the Reality Coalition seems to think. 

I’ve seen the data, and I know
that most of you are concerned about America’s growing reliance on energy
imports and the rising cost of energy and it’s impact on our economy.  You
also believe in the American ingenuity that has accomplished amazing things in
the past and therefore believe it is possible to develop and deploy
technologies to capture and store carbon. 

Barack Obama said it best earlier this year at a campaign stop in Lebonon,
Virginia, where he said, "This is America.  We figured out how to put
a man on the moon in 10 years.  You can't tell me that we can't figure out
how to burn coal that we mine right here in the United States of America and
make it [capture of CO2] work."

To that to
say … Yes We Can!


6 Responses to “We’re Misleading? Name One Incident! (We’re Still Waiting.)”

  1. Mike says:

    I don’t deny that the “facts” you list are reasonably accurate, but what does come into question is the thought process behind which these facts come from. For one, the Myers-Briggs test is no more scientifically accurate than a horoscope – do you believe in those also? What about how coal is mined? Does anyone consider the people that bring us the coal in the first place and the dangers that they are exposed to – cave-ins, black lung, and so on? Also consider that we as a society wouldn’t have to create so much power if the population wasn’t so dense and humanity continues to pop out kids like human gumball machines – look at the problems that China has. I don’t think anyone really has an answer to our energy problems, but everyone seems to act like they do. Electric cars? The energy needed to charge the batteries has to come from somewhere (coal or oil) – we are simply trading one problem for another. Ethanol? Farms are already straining and I’m to believe that we can double production to create fuel? At the very least we don’t have to live in cities where coal dust covers everything. We have a long way to go before people start working together for a solution to our energy problems because they are simply too busy arguing opinions that have no rational to back them up. Any fundamentalist group simply acts on emotion and what they want to be true, not by logic and reason. By the way, 69% approval rating is not exactly something to boast about. We need to end the mindless debates, the fraud, greed, and waste of society so all this money and resources can be put to better use – and I for one, have little reason to believe that humanity is ready to change for the better. We, as a species, are still whiney, hypersensitive, victimized, irresponsible, deceitful, manipulative, and not accountable for our own actions. With so much resistance, even if we had the solution we couldn’t implement it properly and in time to avert a crisis.

  2. jim says:

    The discussion on clean coal leaves out one of the most glaring facts ..no utility is doing clean coal technology.
    The essence of clean coal technology is to pump those noxious byproducts of burning coal.. carbon dioxide monoxide into the ground..sound like
    nuclear fuel?
    The idea is to pump it low enough below water table so noxious byproducts wont come
    up into our drinking water..
    or into people’s homes garages etc ..Right now no state gives this clean coal
    “high tech solution” any credence because they don’t want the liability of citizens of their state being gassed if it rises up to surface.
    I did not pick this data up from any group but a Public Broadcasting System(PBS)reasonable study of the facts and actual interviews with the cutting edge people in clean coal thru Southern Company Utitities..
    They are experimenting and trying but we are not close to a near term solution with clean coal..the consensus seems to be to cover immediate needs with natural gas..

  3. Mike:

    Thanks for posting. Your comment illustrates the importance of the clean energy conversation, one which we hope to highlight here.

    Like we always say, we need all of our domestic resources to meet our growing demand for energy, secure the country and stimulate the economy. And as I just told one of our other commenters, coal has to be part of the solution, not a target of the policy.

    Because the truth is, none of these resources aren’t without flaws. We cannot allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good. We already know that we can take clean plants and make them even more efficient over time, including the capture and storage of carbon. The other option is to wait for the perfect energy resource, and if we’re going to be waiting on that, we’d better be prepared to sit around in the dark, because there is no such thing as the perfect energy resource.

  4. Actually, Jim, utilities are doing clean coal technology.

    Over the last 30 years, America’s coal-based electricity providers have invested more than $90 billion in technologies to reduce emissions. Due to investments like these, our coal-based generating fleet is 70 percent cleaner on the basis of regulated emissions per unit of energy produced.

    Utilities continue to invest their profits in clean coal technologies. The latest example is a consortium between Washington University in St. Louis, Ameren, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, in which the three utilities will donate $12 million over five years to advance clean coal technology, including the capture and storage of carbon.

    One last note about natural gas: this isn’t an either/or situation. When it comes to powering this country for decades to come, we’ll have to put all of our domestic energy resources to work.

  5. Mike says:

    Megan,
    I agree – there is no one perfect energy resource. Wind, solar, nuclear, oil, coal, natural gas, biofuels, and even the first fuel source of simply burning wood, all need to be implemented to sustain our quality of life. Even if we did discover a better energy source, it will still take the rest of the world quite a long time to catch up (look at how third-world countries still live). Oil and coal are still our best bets right now (not to mention the least expensive), but that doesn’t mean that we should stop searching for a better source of energy, nor does it mean that we cannot improve upon what we use/have now and make it more efficient. By the way, how much time, money, and resources are wasted on dreams of crap ideas like “fuel savers” and “perpetual motion machines”? Resources that can be better utilized elsewhere? Like I stated before, if we can get the fraud, greed, and waste under control, we’d be in a much better position even without finding a new energy source – and look at how much we would have to dedicate toward research and development? We’re getting there slowly, but humanity’s struggle with itself is getting in the way of real societal evolution.

  6. benswing says:

    The Reality Coalition’s ad (I believe) is specifically referring to carbon sequestration and there currently are no carbon sequestration plants. The folks at the Reality coalition would probably be delighted to see clean coal plants, instead of the slightly less dirty plants that you promote on this website.
    The almost all of the specific points you mention in this post have nothing to do with the “Clean” part of clean coal. I don’t think the Reality Coalition argues against the current economics of coal, the domestic availability or the fact that access to electricity is good. The only point in your post that is even close to being relevant is the fourth point in which you state that pollution has been reduced. (I am in no way connected with the Reality Coalition.)
    The misleading information you have been spreading on this website has to do with your definition of Clean Coal. Apparently you define Clean Coal technology as being successful if it only slightly reduces the heavy metals, CO2, and other pollutants released by coal plants.
    Here is an example where you are misleading (please change the title of the original post to reflect that an example has been found). In your map showing the different amounts of coal power in each state, you list Louisiana as ranked “20th highest” price paid for electricity, yet they only get 26.8% of their electricity from coal. The headline reads “Below national average coal use, high energy prices.” 20th of 50 is considered high? Where is the middle? Does a state have to be exactly at 50% to be in the middle. A fair middle-price range would be the middle third of states, ie – 17th highest to 17th lowest. You purposefully mischaracterize average pricing as being “high”, that is misleading.