‘World News’ Compares 'Clean Coal' to ‘Fat-Free Doughnuts’

As six miners are trapped in a collapsed coal mine ABC “World News Tonight with Charles Gibson” took it the opportunity to kick the coal industry while it was down – but this time in the name of global warming.

“The criticism of coal is that it’s a dirty energy source. Although many of the pollutants are being scrubbed out – it’s still high in carbon, the greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. The industry is promising some new expensive technology to remove that carbon.” said ABC correspondent David Kerley on August 8

Even though the coal industry has made strides in the last 15 years to curb emissions, the report used an agenda-driven journalist, Jeff Goodell, author of “Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future,” to make the case against coal.

“‘Clean coal’ is something like fat-free doughnuts. 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 said. 

An advertising slogan?  Some scientists would disagree.

“There are many opportunities for enhancing the performance of coal plants in a carbon-constrained world – 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,” said Dr. Ernest J. Moniz, a physicist at MIT. Moniz was not quoted by “World News."

Goodell, offered as a coal industry expert by ABC, 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, Air America and The New Republic. He admitted in an interview his interest in the coal industry was generated by the 2000 presidential election, when President George W. Bush won the vote in West Virginia.

Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for the MRC's Business and Media Institute.