"Increased public awareness of the threats posed by global warming, along with new evidence that significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions must be made soon, before global 'tipping points' are reached, have made it difficult to build new coal-burning power plants. Since mid-2007, plans for 82 coal plants across the United States have been cancelled, abandoned or placed on hold.
The coal industry responded by ramping up its public relations and marketing efforts. Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC), an industry front group formed by coal, mining, electric and railroad companies, nearly quadrupled its budget for PR, advertising and 'grassroots' organizing, from 2007 to 2008. ABEC sought to influence the U.S. presidential election with a $35 million campaign touting "clean coal" in key primary and caucus states. The front group paid CNN $5 million, for advertising and co-sponsorship of at least six presidential debates. ABEC also paid people to walk around 'as human billboards' outside the January 2008 Democratic debate, handing out leaflets 'with questions for voters to ask the candidates.'"