In the voluminous annals of dirty energy denialism and flat-out falsehoods, this interview with Greg Boyce, the CEO of America's largest coal company, Peabody Energy, has got to rank up there. Here are a few whoppers by Boyce that jumped out at us.
- Boyce says, "Since 1970, coal use has increased almost 200%, yet the emissions from coal have been reduced by almost 90%." Except, of course, that he's completely ignoring emissions of global-warming-causing carbon dioxide, which haven't been reduced at all. As if that's not bad enough, Boyce also fails to mention that reductions in pollutants like lead and mercury from coal-fired power plants came from government regulation, which his industry vehemently opposed every step of the way. Details, details.
- Boyce claims that coal is "the lowest-cost form of electrical generation" and, he implies, will continue to be so over the next 20-30 years. That's certainly not going to be true in 20-30 years, and it's already not the case today in an increasing number of places. For instance, Greentech Media recently reported that solar is at grid parity in Utah, a "state with no renewable standard." If that's already the case in Utah, and if solar costs continue to fall as they've been doing for years, Boyce's prediction will soon be proven false everywhere. Don't believe us? See the U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest cost projections, which forecast coal-fired power to be more expensive than wind, geothermal, hydro and natural gas (with solar cheaper than coal-fired power with carbon capture and sequestration capability).
- Boyce calls clean energy "boutique and high-priced energy" and basically says it's unaffordable. He also claims that "there are no replacements for fossil fuels at scale, at affordability." None of that, of course, is even remotely true. As we just discussed in the previous bullet point, new coal-fired power plants coming online in 2019 will be more expensive than a variety of other power sources - wind, geothermal, hydro, and natural gas. The situation will look even worse for coal if it's forced to clean up the pollution it currently spews for free into the air and water. In other words, coal is actually the "boutique and high-priced energy" source, especially if you incorporate all the environmental and health care damages it inflicts into its price.
- Finally, regarding the newly-proposed EPA carbon-pollution reduction regulations, Boyce falsely claims that "everybody doesn't like them." In fact, there's a lot of polling that shows them to be quite popular. For instance, this ABC News/Washington Post poll finds "70 percent support for limiting emissions from existing power plants." Meanwhile, this poll of two "swing states" (Virginia and Pennsylvania) finds that "61% of voters were found to support new power plant rules which the EPA proposed on Monday, even after hearing the arguments for and against." If 70% and 61% are what Boyce means by "everybody doesn't like them," then we also expect he believes other crazy things like the earth is flat, up is down, black is white, and...coal is clean.