'World News' Criticizes 'Dirty' Coal Industry During Search for Trapped Miners
With six miners trapped in a collapsed mine as of August 8, ABCâs âWorld News with Charles Gibsonâ used the crisis to take a few pot shots at the coal industry â all in the name of global warming.
âThe criticism of coal is that itâs a dirty energy source,â said ABC correspondent David Kerley on the August 7 show. âAlthough many of the pollutants are being scrubbed out â itâs still high in carbon, the greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. The industry is promising some new expensive technology to remove that carbon.â
The âWorld Newsâ report briefly featured Carol Raulston, a spokeswoman from the National Mining Association, who reminded the audience that coal is less expensive than other electricity sources. Kerley noted that 50 percent of U.S. electricity comes from coal.
But the report changed its tone when Kerley focused on criticism of the âdirty energy source.â He brought on Jeff Goodell, author of âBig Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future.â
ââClean coalâ is something like fat-free doughnuts,â Goodell said. âItâs something, that we would all sort of like to believe in and sounds good. But, in fact is just a kind of a, uh â advertising slogan.â
Goodell didnât back up his claim that it was just âkind of an advertising sloganâ with any scientific evidence. However, researchers at MIT would dispute his claim.
âThere are many opportunities for enhancing the performance of coal plants in a carbon-constrained world â higher efficiency generation, perhaps through new materials; novel approaches to gasification, CO2 capture, and oxygen separation; and advanced system concepts, perhaps guided by a new generation of simulation tools,â said Dr. Ernest J. Moniz, a physicist at MIT, in a March 14 news release. âAn aggressive R&D effort in the near term will yield significant dividends down the road, and should be undertaken immediately to help meet this urgent scientific challenge.â
The industry has, in fact, reduced its emissions significantly over the years. In 1970, utilities used 320 million tons of coal with emissions equaling 15.8 million tons. Compare that to 1995, when 875 million tons of coal were used and emissions reduced to 11.6 million. Thatâs a 26-percent decrease in emissions, despite a more than 250-percent increase in coal consumption, according to the Virginia Mining Association.
Goodell lacks the scientific credentials to make expert claims about coal. He is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and a contributor to The New York Times Magazine and Air America. He admitted in an interview his interest in the coal industry was inspired by the 2000 presidential election â when President George W. Bush won the state of West Virginia, a state that had traditionally voted Democratic, and how the coal industry may have influenced the stateâs politics.