Thursday, December 04, 2008

King Coal is wearing no clothes

Above the Alliance for Climate Protection's new ad describing the fine clothing that King Coal is selling this Christmas season. Of course, if you don't believe them (and if you do Eli will sell you some excellent air capture technology) Ethon has it on good advice that all we have to do is wait for a miracle. Still if you want to watch the good king being undressed listen to today's interview on NPR with Al and the Mountain(Remover)eers, esp the latter

If you don't have the eight minutes, there is a summary, but it really does not capture how Robert Siegel did his mountain top removal act on Joe Lucas, Vice President for Communications for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. You need to hear the voices to sense the desperation of Lucas as Siegel skewers him. NPR politely skewers, but well, it's pretty clear that Lucas never expected what he got, and although it is NPR, it still signals a shifting of public opinion Eli has transcribed a bit of the Gore interview

Siegel: The American Coalition for Clean Coal and Electricity ... says that they have made a commitment to use coal cleanly and wisely and have shown great progress in achieving that goal

Gore: The question is not whether you are for it or against it, the question is whether or not it exists. It is a theoretical possibility and if it could be brought into existence at some future date at some unspecified cost then it would be great, but it doesn't exist now. Its not anywhere close to being a reality.... Let's not pretend it exists now
And most of the Lucas one
Siegel: What do you think of the add campaign launched against you says that in reality there is no such thing as Clean Coal

Lucas: Well I don't agree with that at all Clean Coal is a term of art that has been around for over thirty years it is shorthand for clean coal technology. It is that whole suite of technologies that have been used to reduce the environmental footprint of using coal to generate electricity. We have made tremendous progress in reducing the environmental footprint in using coal to generate electricity
Here Lucas plays Humpty Dumpty trying to define his way out of trouble, but Siegel is well prepared having read at least a bit of the FR
Siegel: When McKinnsey and Co. the big consultant firm studied CO2 capture and storage technologies in Europe they defined the aim of all of this as capturing around 90% of CO2 emissions from a coal burning plant. If that is what Clean Coal is, does it exist right now. Is there really an existing big industrial scale plant in which you can capture 90% of the CO2
Open mouth, insert foot:
Lucas: There is not that plant, but that is not what Clean Coal is today. Clean Coal is an evolutionary term just like medical technology. Thirty years ago when we didn't have MRI machines we didn't say that we didn't have medical technology but now we have medical technology that includes MRI machines so our understanding of medical technology has evolved.
Siegel takes a bite:
Siegel: Don't you think that the analogy between clean coal and medical technology is a bit imperfect here. That clean coal is a value judgement. It implies something good, successful that has happened. Medical technology implies no particular success, it's just a great enterprise. Clean Coal seems to imply that it is good, it's here.
Lucas now tries to remove foot with bite marks
Lucas: I don't agree with you that it is a misnomer, or a misuse of the term at all. It is in fact talking about this evolutionary progress that we have made over the years. And if you had the Vice-President and me sitting side by side here in the studio we would agree that the ultimate goal is to reach that zero emissions portfolio. The answer is how to we get there, how fast and what does it cost
Siegel re-inserts Lucas' foot into Lucas' mouth carelessly dropping a few toes on the floor. Eli is enjoying this
Siegel: But there is a difference between a process and a product. The process you are saying is over the years making clean coal. Right now the product that is Coal that emits hardly any CO2 into the atmosphere, that's not here yet.
Lucas chokes (you have to listen, Eli told you) on foot swallows to try and extricate leg
Lucas: Somebody asked me that question over a year ago about clean Coal and I said that I learned a long time ago when my mother told me to go clean my room that people's value judgement about what was clean was different. I thought I did a very good job on cleaning my room only to find out that her definition was different.

Siegel: What about that McKinnsey definition they said that 90% of the CO2 emitted from burning the coal would be captured and then you could store it somewhere

Lucas: That is what they described When I look at what the majority of Americans say is clean coal is the fact that we are using technology today to reduce the emissions of hazardous air pollutants and the fact that we will be able to over the next ten years begin to bring technologies into the market place to capture and store carbon That's what the American people believe that clean coal is
That last was a big mistake. Siegel then does his foo bird imitation and dumps the entire load on Lucas
Siegel: But Mr. Lucas, you are also saying that you influenced that opinion. That in part what people are saying clean coal is, is in part, what when you've gotten them to think it is by campaigning over the last eight years
Lucas should have worn it. Eli wants video.
Lucas: But I think the American public looks at things. What you see over time is that today the reality is Americans believe, in great measure, that the coal based electricity sector has been able to deliver affordable reliable energy using domestic energy resources where applicable, keep costs low and continuous environmental improvement.
Feel free to comment after the jump.


John Mashey said...

Not the same thing, but see:

Ryan D said...

Listening to the interview on NPR, I can only say: trainwreck. My god! This guy is supposed to be a spokesperson?! He sounds like the folks who say there is no reality but the perceived reality. There's a lot of money lobbying behind this "clean coal" and a lot of money being spent to convince Americans that it exists. It's time to say "Show us your hand."


Recovering in the Florida Keys said...

King Coal isn't completely naked.

Futuregen should get full funding under Obama, the plant is in Illinois after all.

And shows promise.

No big leaps in technology yet, just a few little mouse hops.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Eli, I'd have missed this if you hadn't blogged it.