Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Next wave of 'clean coal' ads to focus on jobs; how much have the ads influenced public policy?

The next wave of the advertising campaign designed to push "clean coal" technologies is scheduled to start this week, as some evidence suggests the success of previous installments, Anne C. Mulkern of Greenwire reports for The New York Times: "Top policymakers, including President Obama, are echoing a key message from the ads, that technology in the future could reduce coal's carbon pollution and keep coal a part of the energy mix." The new ads focus on the job opportunities from coal and mention previous environmental arguments.

Last week Obama "created a task force charged with advancing five to 10 commercial demonstrations of carbon-capture-and-sequestration technology by 2016," Mulkern writes. Some credit for clean-coal technology's improved prospects could be attributed to promising early reports from a pilot project at an American Electric Power plant in West Virginia. Nevertheless, "There's a reason companies do these campaigns," Kenneth Green, resident scholar at American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, told Mulkern. "It's because they tend to work."

However, Josh Dorner, spokesman for the Sierra Club, voiced skepticism about the ads' effect. "The coal industry has a stranglehold over the U.S. Congress more than anything that would be reasonable. Whether that's because of a $120 million in advertising spending," in addition to spending on lobbying, he added, "remains to be seen." (Read more)

The campaign "dates back to the summer of 2007, when Americans for Balanced Energy Choices, a precursor of the coal trade group that later became American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, told its members it needed to commit to a lengthy and expensive effort to protect coal," Mulkern reports. ACCCE has the new ads in addition to previous one on its Web site.

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