The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Steve Carpinelli (202) 481-1225

'Clean Coal's' Lobbying Blitz

45 million a year campaign to sell coal as indispensable to America’s energy future


hearings begin this afternoon on landmark climate change legislation,
the debate will bear the mark of an unprecedented corporate campaign
over the past year to preserve coal's role in the nation's energy
future. The drive is bolstered by at least $15.6 million in federal
campaign contributions in the 2008 election cycle, according to "The 'Clean Coal' Lobbying Blitz," a new story by the Center for Public Integrity, focusing on the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE).

Many now
recognize the ads by ACCCE, with the bright orange power cord plugged
into a lump of coal, but the Center tells the story of its origins at
least five years ago as the industry grappled with the growing drumbeat
for policy action on global warming. The burning of coal for
electricity is a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, but ACCCE
promotes the message that carbon capture technology could solve the
pollution problem. The $45 million a year campaign positions coal as an
indispensable component of the nation's energy mix - one that keeps
electricity affordable because it is so much cheaper than alternatives.
The campaign, which rolled out one year ago, is three times larger than
the industry's previous lobbying and public relations efforts. But it's
just a small slice of the money the industry has amassed; amidst the
punishing economy of 2008, the top five U.S. coal mining companies saw
their profits more than double to $1.9 billion last year, the Center

Center's story provides a new picture of the coal coalition's political
influence, with data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Political action committees and individuals, including many top
executives, employed by the 48 mining, manufacturing, rail and utility
companies that are a part of ACCCE contributed $15.6 million to federal
candidates in the 2008 election cycle - with a reach so wide that 87
percent of Congress received money. Two key members who only rose to
their leadership posts after the election received no ACCCE-member
contributions: Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA and
his global warming subcommittee chairman, Rep. Ed Markey, D-MA. But the
vast majority of their Committee colleagues did. And the draft climate
legislation by Waxman and Markey - who only a year ago pushed for a
moratorium on new coal plants - offers the industry a pathway forward
and provides billions for clean coal research.

ACCCE's promotion of clean coal has been ridiculed in a high-profile
advertising campaign led by former Vice President Al Gore's Alliance
for Climate Protection, the coal coalition is facing the upcoming
policy debate with optimism. "Not so long ago, people questioned
whether coal was going to be a fuel for the future," ACCCE spokesman
Joe Lucas told the Center. "Clearly there are fewer and fewer people
who don't think it will be."

In its
recent report showing how the number of climate lobbyists has
quadrupled in the last five years, the Center singled out ACCCE as
having spent more on lobbying on climate last year - $9.95 million -
than any other organization solely devoted to the issue. The Center's
new report looks behind that number, and traces the origins, goals,
strategies and influence of one of the most important voices weighing
in on federal climate policy.

The Climate Change Lobby
is generously supported by a grant from the Deer Creek Foundation and
is part of an ongoing investigative series on climate change policy
issues. In addition, organizational support for the Center is provided
by Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, the JEHT
Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the John D. and
Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Park Foundation, the Popplestone
Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and many other generous
institutional and individual donors.

The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit organization dedicated to producing original, responsible investigative journalism on issues of public concern. The Center is non-partisan and non-advocacy. We are committed to transparent and comprehensive reporting both in the United States and around the world.