Fear Sells: Outrageous Attacks Like This One Fuel the Coal Ash Debate

            Anti-coal environmental groups are becoming increasingly creative in their attacks on coal ash – completely ignoring the environmental benefits of recycling while making claims that become more outlandish by the day. Consider a recent e-mail from Clean Water Action with the subject line: “Would you bathe in sewage?”

            Clean Water Action is a national environmental group that, according to their “nonprofit” tax records, raises more than $10 million a year in individual contributions. What motivates so many people to give so much?  Here are excerpts from the January 27, 2010, e-mail:

            “There was a time, many centuries ago, when people bathed in raw sewage. After the plague broke out, in part due to such practices, Europeans discovered that attempting to clean oneself with excrement was not only unsanitary but contributed to the spread of death and disease across the continent.”

            “Here in 2010, we spread coal ash - the toxic byproduct of coal-fired power plants - onto our roads and bury it in leaky landfills. We can't imagine bathing in a medieval toilet, yet coal ash contaminates groundwater and surface water, posing devastating health risks to us all.”

            The e-mail, of course, includes a handy link to “Support Clean Water Action by making a donation today.”  A visit to the organization’s web site also reveals a prominent link to “Donate Now” at the top of its home page.

            For what it’s worth, Citizens for Recycling First has written extensively about ridiculous claims like Clean Water Action’s.  For a review of how “toxic” coal ash really is, look here:   To understand the “health risks,” consider this report by experts who have studied the largest spill of coal ash in history:   Look here to compare coal ash directly to something a lot more benign than sewage – namely your own household garbage:

            Environmental groups that are truly interested in improving our environment could demonstrate their commitment by supporting the safe recycling of coal ash as the preferred alternative to its disposal.  Environmental groups that are mainly interested in padding their treasuries, on the other hand, will probably continue issuing breathlessly absurd claims like Clean Water Action’s.


Posted by: on: Mar 29, 2010 @ 09:44