When it comes to the idea of clean coal author Jeff Goodell put it best: "Clean coal" is not an actual invention, a physical thing – it is an advertising slogan. Like "fat-free donuts" or "interest-free loans."
In other words, the idea that coal somehow fits the definition of "clean" is nothing more than an illusion created by ad firms and public relations spindoctors. The truth of the matter is that coal remains the dirtiest fossil fuel in America, pumping all sorts of nasty by-products into our air, like Mercury and heat-trapping greenhouse gases that are the main culprit when it comes to climate change.
Earlier this year we reported that the public relations firm behind the coal industry's multi-million dollar marketing blitz to put a clean shiny new face on coal was boasting their ability to manipulate the opinions of both Democratic and Republican politicians.
Now the advertising firm behind the heavily-aired "America's Power" campaign, R & R Partners - Advertising, has come out with its own brag-sheet detailing the ad work it did for the coal industry's main front group the, "American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity" (ACCCE).
Rob Van Raaphorst, Account Supervisor, Public Relations at R&R Advertising and Persuasion explains that their company prepared, "a fully integrated marketing, branding and issue-advocacy campaign to educate our audiences on the importance of coal in their daily lives... Outreach consisted of grassroots, earned media, paid media and advocacy tactics that created a "surround-sound" effect targeting each of our audiences through all mediums and communications. Grassroots efforts included street teams, walking billboards, mobile billboards and recruitment and mobilization of an ACCCE Army (supporters of ACCCE and its mission) at presidential primaries, debates, conventions and other key campaign events."
R&R Advertising has a second case study up on their website discussing the development of ACCCE's $400,000 website CleanCoalUSA.org. Interestingly, in this case study R&R does not directly attribute the website to ACCCE, but instead to an advocacy group called the "Coal-Based Generation Stakeholders." A quick online search finds that the Coal-Based Generation Stakeholder is an organization made up of a diverse group of investor owned utilities, rural electric co-ops, public power companies, coal producers and coal-hauling railroads.
Members of the Coal-Based Generation Stakeholder group include ACCCE president, Steve Miller (big surprise), Irl Engelhardt, president and CEO, Peabody Energy, Ruth Shaw, President and CEO, Duke Energy and Jack Gerard, President and CEO, National Mining Association.
A cozy little tight knit group of major coal players all working together with their ad firms and spindoctors to convince us that clean coal (like fat-free doughnuts) actually exists.