Green for the Greens, Lumps of Coal for Everyone Else

Mark Tapscott, in today’s Washington Examiner, explodes the propaganda from the “Reality Campaign,” a coalition of leftist environmental groups, which has all but declared war on America’s most abundant source of energy: coal.

You’ve no doubt seen the TV spot where the guy in the hard hat steps through an industrial-looking door  into the desert and begins mocking “clean coal,” which he says doesn’t exist.

This clever advocacy campaign is courtesy of the imaginatively misnamed Reality Coalition of the Alliance for Climate Protection, League of Conservation Voters, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Sierra Club.

Despite the millions of private donors, lucrative investments and big endowments received by members of the Reality Coalition, your tax dollars helped finance some of its richest members.

The NRDC, for instance, got a $400,333 federal grant in 2006 under the Clean Air Act, according to, even though the organization’s 2006 annual budget exceeded $70 million. You can review NRDC tax returns at

So, if you’ve wondered why extremist green groups have so much money, it’s because they get so much of your money!

And NRDC isn’t the only Reality Coalition member getting government support. According to their most recent IRS forms, the National Wildlife Federation received $188, 695 in government grants in 2006, while the League of Conservation Voters got nearly all of its funding for 2006 — $5,501,205 out of $5,638,881 — from government grants. (The IRS Form 990 lists government grants from all levels together, not just federal, but still, it’s tax dollars, either way. Moreover, according to the federal website, which lists all federal grants, NWF regional offices have gotten $81,200 from the federal government in FY 2008.)

Federal funding of advocacy is bad enough. Making this situation even worse is the fact that said advocacy is so misleading. Tapscott goes on:

But back to clean coal. Is there really no such thing, as claimed by the Reality Coalition? Well, consider the following facts (courtesy of Paul Driessen of and judge for yourself:

* Particulate emissions (i.e. “soot”) from coal-burning power plants have been reduced to 90 percent below 1970 levels despite a tripling of coal use.

* Most of what’s left in that soot is ammonium sulfate and ammonium nitrate, neither of which is regarded as dangerous to public health, even at much higher levels of concentration.

* Coal is used to generate half of all electricity used in this country, and in 22 states it accounts for 60-98% of the electricity used. Ever calculated the economic cost — lost jobs, production, productivity – of banning coal in states like Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Utah, West Virginia or Wyoming that absolutely depend upon the black rock?

* Ever think about the human cost to Americans of banning coal? Here’s a partial list of medical products made possible by the electricity generated from coal-burning power plants: X-rays, CT scans, colonoscopies, cardiac surgeries, refrigerated vaccinations against deadly diseases and kidney dialysis.

* The human cost of not having electricity in Third World countries is staggering, as Driessen notes in a recent column: “Four million infants, children and parents die every year from lung infections — caused by smoke, soot and other pollutants from open fires that heat their homes and cook their meager food, because they don’t have electricity. Two million more perish from intestinal diseases, caused by unsafe water and spoiled food, because they lack refrigeration, sanitation and water treatment.”

My point here is this: Global warming extremists continually make absolute claims in their propaganda like the Reality Coalition’s clean coal spot, but the truth is often found in the facts they ignore or try to suppress.

The facts cited by Driessen concern conventional coal. New technologies are on the horizon such as gasification and carbon-capture that promise to make coal burning even more environmentally friendly.

So strictly speaking, the “clean coal” technologies aren’t here yet. But then neither are the alternative energy supplies the environmentalists regularly cite as ready replacements for coal and other carbon-based fuels. And there are serious trade-offs with the alternatives that environmentalists don’t like to talk about.

Indeed, as Thomas Sowell has insistently noted, it is the tendency to ignore the necessity of trade-offs, in search of all-encompassing “solutions,” that has led many on the Left down utopian-seeking dead ends — with dire consequences in the area of real-world public policy.

See Paul Driessen’s interview in CEI’s Planet newsletter here.