Clean Coal: Coens Say “No”


As I watched TV last night, I saw an amusing, effective spot lampooning the utility industry’s chronic old saw trumpeting claims of “clean coal technology,” (a euphemism for” smoke and mirrors”).

Having worked 8 years in the “Public Affairs”  (a euphemism for “ignore it or lie about it”)  department for AEP, one of the nation’s top polluters, I find the farcical “Clean coal” initiative instigated by utility lobbyists and funded by the utility/coal industries (the Edison Electric Institute has to be in there somewhere)  patently absurd. Back then, AEP was all about nuclear. I joined them in 1979, on the heels of Three Mile Island. We were dealing with the panic that ensued–constantly building a case for/defending nuclear power, fighting costly retrofit of hi-sulfur coal burning plants to expensive, inefficient scrubbers, exploiting low surfer coal properties in the west and refuting the affects of Acid Rain.

I had no idea that the spot I watched was an invention of brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, a duo responsible for Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Hudsucker Proxy, Barton Fink, The Big Lebowski, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? and other personal favorites.

When I worked for AEP, their emphasis was on PFBC (Pressurized, Fluidized Bed Combustion).  They even commissioned a very bad song about it.  I wish I’d pirated a copy of the tape.  It was hilarious.  I left AEP in 1987 and all these years later, despite its much touted benefits, I don’t see PFBC’s impact on our fuel mix.

Regardless, enjoy the Coen commercial.

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