Front Porch Blog

Guest Post: I Believe! I mean, sort of…Well, not really…

Here is a great blog post from “Activist and Mom” Betsy Shepard who has been fighting a proposal to build the largest coal plant in Virginia a few miles from her family’s home in Surry County. She points out the incredible hypocrisy of the coal industry’s rhetoric around greenhouse gas emissions in the face of the new EPA rule. Be sure to check out her blog here.

When I first heard about the coal plant, I was fairly indifferent. I didn’t know much about coal or electricity generation.

What I did know was that coal had cleaned up their act significantly.

How did I know that?

Easy. I watched ad after ad telling me so during the presidential debates and election news.
The ads were the work of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) – some sort of lobby/marketing group for the coal industry.

They were pretty convincing. All mom and apple pie and American ingenuity and welcoming and meeting any challenge.

Here’s Steve Miller, their president, talking about the launch of their 2008 campaign–the “I Believe” ads:

CO2 emissions? No problem! he says. “We’ll meet that challenge!” Boo-ya!

Here’s the actual “I Believe” ad:

Golly! Doesn’t that feel good? “We can. We will!”

I kind of believe, too, after watching that.

Even our local coal plant guys told us how the plant proposed here (the Cypress Creek Power Station) would be all clean coal feel-good goodness:

“Cypress Creek will also include space to house carbon capture equipment when this technology becomes readily available.”

– David Smith, ODEC, Sussex Surry Dispatch, Jan. 2010

Again…No problem!

So, last week when the EPA announced that they would begin the process of limiting carbon emissions (or CO2 or greenhouse gas), who would have expected these same “We can. We will!” folks to lose their minds?

But lose them, they did!

The ACCCE released a press statement saying this:

”This latest rule will make it impossible to build any new coal-fueled power plants, and could cause the premature closure of many more coal-fueled power plants operating today.”


What happened to “meet any challenge?” “American technology?”

What happened to “I Believe?”

Even our local coal guys lost their minds over the ruling.

From an article in a local paper New Regulations Could Doom Proposed Surry Coal Plant:

Billions of tons of CO2 have been stored underground using Carbon Capture and Sequestration, but Hudgins [ODEC rep] said the technology is far from refined and not practical for Dendron. Not only does the equipment cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but local geology isn’t suitable for storage.

“We’d have to transport it all the way to the Appalachians,” he said. “Or to a place that’s 30 miles offshore. The sheer volume of material… how would we ever get it there?”

He’s also concerned about liability: “What if something terrible happens some day – say an earthquake – and the stuff releases and kills thousands of people? Who’s responsible? The utility that put it down there.”

From “No problem,” to, “There’s no way in God’s green earth,” in one short proposed ruling?
Good gravy.

My kids were less freaked out than this when they figured out there was no Tooth Fairy.

Which begs the question, did the coal industry really believe? Or did they just say all that in attempt to throw the public off their scent?

Either way, they might provide reliable electricity, but their reliability seems to end there.

Poor dears….I hope the Easter Bunny brings them something extra special this weekend.





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