Monday, December 3, 2007

No Balance; One Choice

D.C. based front-group for Big Coal, the so-called "American's for Balanced Energy Choices" have begun a full court press in South Carolina. Any connections between ABEC's interference in South Carolina and Santee Cooper's increasing desperation with respect to the ill-advised coal plant it wants to build in Pee Dee? Well, ABEC says no, and Santee Cooper has cleverly maintained its distance from ABEC -- those who believe there isn't a connection should be sure to leave some cookies and milk by the fireplace before they go to bed on December 24th.

The Post & Courier reporter responsible for the excellent series on Mercury recently wrote a brief piece exposing the hypocrisy of this shameless industry group. According to the piece, they'll be spending $200,000 in South Carolina to convince you that Santee Cooper's coal plant is GREAT for our state.

Using the slogan "clean coal, America's power," the group's [Americans for Balanced Energy Choices] goal is to persuade voters and the presidential candidates about the benefits of using new technology to "keep coal in the mix," according to one official with the group....

The group plans to crisscross the state in a decorated "Flex Fuel" van and buy newspaper, online, television and radio ads. She said the group wants to raise the issue's profile as presidential campaigning picks up before South Carolina's primary. The national campaign's budget is $8 million to $10 million.

Dana Beach, executive director of the Coastal Conservation League, took issue with the group's name and goals. "This campaign is neither balanced nor about energy choices," he said. "I'm confident the public will see it for what it really is: a shameless greenwashing scheme funded by the coal industry designed to disguise the reality that coal is the dirtiest, most polluting energy source available."
ABEC also appeared on the NPR/ETV program The Big Picture on the Radio and in the Florence Morning News. More on ABEC here.

Its absurd to think we need a pro-coal group espousing "balance" and "choices" in our state when we already get nearly 50% of our power from coal (how's that for balance) and utilities like Santee Cooper are only offering one choice: more coal. These D.C. special-interest lobbyists clearly think we are a bunch of witless hicks. Not so. Its especially a shame since what South Carolina DOES need is more dialogue on fuel diversity, including more renewable energy and efficiency.


David, with ABEC said...

You sound like you’ve made your mind up with respect to using coal to generate electricity. But technology has already made coal a cleaner energy resource – overall our plants are 70 percent cleaner, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

And with new advances in technology, we’re looking at a future where coal will meet America’s growing electricity needs with little to no emissions of the pollutants regulated by federal and state clean air laws.

John Mellor said...


Your comments are appreciated, but
I HAVE made up my mind about the impropriety of your organization's sudden materialization in SC while Santee Cooper is pushing a new pulverized coal plant. I don't have to tell you that the plant they propose is not one of those that will produce little or no emissions.

In fact, Santee Cooper has refused to consider building a plant that would gassify coal, thereby significantly reducing emissions (and potentially) capture C02 emissions.

Will you ask them to build IGCC? I doubt it. Will you help folks advance efficiency and renewables in our state? No.

Of course, this blog is specific to South Carolina issues. I'm aware of the FutureGen projects underway elsewhere in the country and hope they succeed. I'm all for using our nation's energy resources responsibly. I suppose the relevant issue over which you and I differ is whether or not a new supercritical pulverized coal plant is a responsible investment in the 21st century in South Carolina. I've made up my mind that it isn't.

David, with ABEC said...

We're excited about IGCC technology too, but we're still working our way around several limitations with the pollution control technology. For instance, it does not work well at certain altitudes. Rather than fighting our efforts, the public ought to be encouraging more investments in technology so that we can all work together to make coal as clean as possible.