Coal industry creates holiday flash presentation to sell dubious technology
John Byrne
Published: Wednesday December 10, 2008

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In perhaps one of the most absurd online holiday greeting presentations ever, the so-called "clean coal" industry has created a flash game that decks out lumps of coal in winter outfits and has them singing such holiday favorites as "Frosty the Coal Man," "Clean Coal Night" and "Abundant, Affordable" (Adeste Fidelis).

The interactive flash offering, titled "Clean Coal Carolers," is probably the most creative effort by the industry to sell Americans on the environmental oxymoron.

Greenpeace and the Sierra Club have mocked the technology, which aims to "recapture" carbon produced by burning coal.

In it, viewers are asked to click pictures of winter clothing, which then appear on blinky-eyed chunks of coal, and select a background for the house where the carolers will sing.

"Frosty the Coal man is a jolly happy soul," they croon in a parody of Frosty the Snowman. "He's abundant here in America and he helps our economy roll. Frosty the Coalman's getting cleaner every day. He's affordable and adorable and helps [indiscernable] keep their pay. There must have been some magic in clean coal technology, for when they looked for pollutants there were nearly none to see."

For Silent Night, they sing: "All day. Every night. Clean coal provides the lights. Heat our homes and keeps us warm."

And Deck the Halls? "Clean, clean coal is here to stay, fa la la la la la la la. Getting cleaner every day, fa la la la la la la. Keeping us all warm at night, fa la la la la la la la la la. When it comes, it makes things light, fa la la la la la la la la."

S. David Freeman, a former head of the Tennessee Valley Authority and now-leader of the Hydrogen Car Company, has written that the clean coal concept is spurious.

"I say this based on my experience as the former head of the [Tennessee Valley Authority], which bought and burned more than 30 million tons of coal a year," Freeman wrote in a recent book. "I was deeply involved in the strip mining, underground mining, trucking, and most importantly, the burning of huge quantities of coal. No one who has been deeply involved with coal can rightfully say it is clean."

Incoming president-elect Barack Obama has cheered clean coal as an environmental breakthrough and a prospect for creating "green jobs," and featured it as part of his energy plan on his campaign website.