The fossil fuel industry has spent more than forty years trying to clean up its image in the American public eye. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it does so mostly by lying. How does anyone sell anything around here, after all?
To celebrate four decades of misleading advertising, Greenpeace dredged up some of the various ads that have circulated over the years. I've pulled out a few of my favorites here—to scan them all, see the group's Quit Coal campaign page.
Without further ado, behold nearly half a century of the coal industry insulting the intelligence of the American people:
No coal, no TV
This AEP advertisement from 1974 claims power plants will be shut down due to clean air laws, leading to planned blackouts. AEP lobbied for pollution monitoring at ground-level, instead of on top of smokestacks where readings are more accurate. Take note that the U.S. has been monitoring pollution at the top of smokestacks for decades, without rolling blackouts.
Acid Rain? Nah, that's not us
This 1982 ad from the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) states “[acid rain] has become an issue clouded by confusion, misguided blame, misplaced hope.” The information booklet offered in this ad was written by Alan Katzenstein, a future tobacco industry PR specialist. EEI claims that conclusions about acid rain and coal pollution are based on “circumstantial evidence” and more facts are necessary before taking action.
What are you, an idiot? Global warming is just a silly tall tale
This 1991 ad from a coal front group called Information Council on the Environment (ICE) claims that “proof that carbon dioxide has been the primary cause [of global warming] is non-existent.” This ad campaign was abandoned after a leaked memo exposed the group’s ad strategy to “reposition global warming as theory” rather than fact.
Don't like coal? Then you're no better than America-hating tyrants
In this 2007 ad, the coal front group Kansans for Affordable Energy claims “without new coal-fueled plants, Kansans will be captive to high-priced natural gas, allowing hostile foreign countries to control the energy policy of Kansas and America.” The ad was responding to the Kansas state government’s decision to deny air quality permits for two coal plants.
See? That was just offensive. The coal industry has, for longer than I have been alive, treated the American people as though they collectively possessed the intellect of a twelve year-old.
Greenpeace's Quit Coal has more.