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Can coal companies and environmentalists find common cause in pursuit of “clean coal”?

Coal companies are trying to make common cause with environmentalists … to lobby for expanded subsidies needed to achieve their “clean coal” objectives.

That’s the money quote in the New York Times report, “Coal Industry Casts itself as a Clean Energy Player

It all centers on the hoped-for success of long-term research on carbon capture and sequestration. Unfortunately this alliance of longtime combatants isn’t going to soon, if ever, help the miners and communities in suffering U.S. coal-mining communities. The Republican-controlled Congress is not in favor of such subsidies and the needed research could take decades. Then there is the stark reality of global energy markets now hewing away from coal. 

And traditional antipathies: The renowned American philosopher Woody Allen has told us that, “The lion may lie down with the lamb, but one of them will spend a sleepless night.”

The discomfort, tempered by realities, is apparent in the quotes from both sides as the Times reported it:

“‘We can’t turn back time,’ said Richard Reavey, vice president for government and public affairs at Cloud Peak Energy.  ‘We have to accept that there are reasonable concerns about carbon dioxide and climate, and something has to be done about it. It’s a political reality, it’s a social reality, and it has to be dealt with.”

“‘We need a low-carbon fossil solution,’ said Deck S. Slone, senior vice president for strategy and public policy at Arch Coal. ‘The political landscape is always shifting and carbon concerns are certainly not going away. We think there is a solution out there in the form of technology that is an answer to the climate challenge and that quite frankly will be good for our business long term.”

On the other hand:

“’To the extent that they are saying things that seem much more rational than in the past,’ said David Hawkins, director of the climate program at the National Resources Defense Council, ‘they are trying to persuade skeptical investors that coal has a future.’ Nevertheless, he added that his group was willing to work with the companies, even while it was suing them in court on other issues, ‘if they are willing to join in properly crafted legislation.”’