Unfazed by environmental challenges, coal industry mounts PR assault, claims social benefits of carbon outweigh costs by at least 50 timesPosted by Jim at Sunday, February 02, 2014
By Ken Silverstein
27 January 2014
(Christian Science Monitor) – Instead of pushing into the future, the embattled US coal industry has reached into the past with a new public relations assault, emphasizing how its product powered the Industrial Revolution and can do the same for today’s emerging nations.
The pitch: The economic and social benefits flowing from fossil fuels over the past two centuries – a doubling of life expectancy and 11-fold rise in incomes – outweigh any potential environmental costs from climate change. It’s no contest, according to the industry’s calculation: $36/ton social costs vs. benefits worth 50 to 500 times that amount.
The problem: Those social and economic strides could be made using other, less carbon-heavy fuels. Criticism of the industry is coming not just from environmentalists, but also from those who want to see the industry succeed by aggressively finding new and cleaner ways to use coal. These range from retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) of West Virginia to US utilities that are shuttering coal units and moving to other fuels. [more]