Media's Favorite Coal Expert Picks at Industry

     Meet the media’s newest coal industry expert Jeff Goodell.

     Goodell is consistently cited as a coal expert by the media, although he has no formal expertise or academic credentials in the coal business. Goodell is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and a contributor to The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic and Air America. But most importantly, he has written a book, “Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future,” therefore he must be an expert on the coal industry.

     But a Washington Post op-ed on the front page of the August 26 “Outlook” section showed his true bias against the industry. Goodell wrote 1,400 words about the “high cost of the United States' dependence on coal, and whether it's worth the price we pay.”

     Since the Utah mine collapse on August 5, Goodell has appeared on CNBC’s “Kudlow & Company” (August 6), MSNBC’s “Live with Dan Abrams (August 6 and August 14), Voice of America News (August 10), NBC’s “Today Show (August 10), various CNN appearances and CNN Headline News’ “Glenn Beck” (August 24).

     Goodell also was featured prominently by the Post, on the August 7 ABC “World News with Charles Gibson.”  and MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”

     However, the media give little information about Goodell’s obvious bias against big coal. Despite generating 50 percent of the United States electricity supply, Goodell gave several reasons why a prohibition should be placed on coal mining and burning in his op-ed.

     According to Goodell, it is not a worthy commodity for a variety of reasons. He says it contributes to global warming. “But the big issue is global warming. Burning coal accounts for more than one-third of U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas,” wrote Goodell.

     He was skeptical of the technological advances, calling “clean coal” an advertising slogan.  “‘Clean coal’ is something like fat-free doughnuts,” Goodell said during his appearance on “World News.” “It’s something, that we would all sort of like to believe in and sounds good. But, in fact is just a kind of a, uh – advertising slogan.”

     Goodell also was doubtful of the abundant supply of coal experts suggest the United States has. “Claims about a 250-year supply of coal won't stand up to scrutiny for long, either. Yes, the United States has more coal than any other nation. But we've been mining coal in this country for 150 years -- all the simple, high-quality, easy-to-get stuff is gone.”

     But with all these criticisms of coal and his questioning of  “how many mining tragedies will we accept in the name of ‘cheap’ electricity” – he has become even more popular with the media.

     So how does Goodell think Americans should curtail the use of coal? By increasing taxes of course, a popular solution for many left-of-center causes.

    “Yes, putting a price on carbon is the single most important thing we could do to change the dynamics in the electric power industry,” wrote Goodell in an online chat session on on August 27. He then said he sees that has the only reasonable solution.