Coal, Climate Change, Copenhagen, Canada

Even as the snow-topped peaks of beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia melt before our eyes during the Winter Olympics, the coal industry wants to remind us how important "clean coal" is for creating affordable energy and future jobs.

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) is running TV ads during the games to champion coal as an abundant and affordable solution to America's clean-energy needs. As one blogger notes:

The ad campaign talks about all of the investments that the coal industry has made to produce ever cleaner electricity from coal, it talks about the 200 year supply of the material (at current consumption rates), and it talks about the fact that coal provides half of all electricity used in America. The intended effect is clear: while Americans are rooting for their favorites in winter sports where we are often underdogs or "also rans", we can root for an energy choice where America is a recognized world leader; we are the world's best endowed country when it comes to coal.

The ACCCE has spent millions of dollars lobbying for the fossil fuel industry. It's fighting tooth and nail to prevent any climate change bill containing greenhouse gas emission mandates from passing through either chamber of Congress, as well as supporting any legislation funding carbon capture-and-storage programs. The group has also spent millions on clean-coal PR campaigns that have successfully changed public opinion regarding climate change and coal's effect on the environment.

The ACCCE spends upward of $30 million a year on advertising. The American Petroleum Institute, a national trade association consisting of oil companies and refineries representing America's oil and natural gas industry, is also buying ads during the Olympics.

Watching NBC's Olympics coverage, one has to wonder: With all the work these groups do to convince Americans that our existing energy dependency is both clean and sustainable, does Canada's inability to muster up a little cold weather in the middle of February convince us otherwise?