CARBONDALE, Pa. — Now that the government’s regulatory authority over large-scale industrial polluters has been broadly affirmed by the Supreme Court, the coal industry is acting like it is trying to clean up its act. Its product cannot be regulated, say coal lobbyists, because—like herbal remedies—it is a “perfectly clean, natural supplement to other sources of our inner energy supply.”
The government has no place in regulating supplements like coal, says Dr. Leon Blumenthal, who has an advanced degree in homeopathic medicine from the Kentucky Coal Academy. “We’re not claiming that clean coal is the cure-all for our energy woes, but it’s only natural to include it as part of a balanced energy diet.”
Unlike a drug—that is, any product laying claim to the treatment, curing, prevention, or alleviation of a disease—neither the Food and Drug Administration nor the Environmental Protection Agency can subject supplements to strict governmental oversight.
“Sure, there are no guarantees about what will come from high doses of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Blumenthal. “But many—if not most—dietary supplements contain potentially harmful contaminants, and yet this country spends upwards of $22 billion each year to choke down pills infused with heavy metals, pesticides, and the feeling that we’re doing something good for ourselves.
“I’m not a scientist or—for the record—a licensed clinician,” he added, “but as someone who wears a white lab coat in television commercials for clean coal, I can assure you that clean, natural coal gives me a giant burst of energy without the hassle.”
Representatives for the EPA characterize the coal industry’s move as a last-ditch effort to present itself in a positive light. “Big coal can redefine itself all it wants, but it’s still digging its own grave,” said Elizabeth Porter of the EPA.
Luke Popovich, spokesman for the National Mining Association, has admitted that the so-called “ ‘war on coal’ never resonated with much conviction among ordinary Americans.” Writing in Coal Age, he said most voters “know far more about the Kardashians than they do about coal.
“We’ve learned from our mistakes,” he claims. “The public is much more likely to pop a cheap pill to keep up with the Kardashians than they are to exercise energy restraint.”