"Clean coal" history lesson

I found this speech in a book titled “The West Virginia Mine Wars.” As far as I know, it is the earliest use of the term “clean coal”, but I am willing to be educated. I am publishing this as a way of getting people to think a bit about the difference between real descriptions and marketing terminology.

“Clean Coal The Keynote for an Early Victory”
A speech by Frank Keeney
Given to members of the United Mine Workers on Labor Day, 1918

A new world is in the making. and the United states will play a most prominent part in the outcome, and organized labor will be one of the chief factors in the winning of a glorious victory, though it shall be won by the greatest human sacrifice in the world’s history — a bloody conflict with the most venomous enemy that has ever faced humankind; but like all the great conflicts that have been waged for the preservation and protection of the human race, untold sacrifices, suffering and miser have been and must be made that the principles and ideas of the world’s Creator shall live, and the world war in which we are now engaged in order to make the whole civilized globe safe for democracy and humanity is no exception to the rule.

Right has always prevailed in the end, and it needs but follow that it will in this great conflict; the success will crown our efforts in sweeping from the face of the earth the feudalistic reign of the mad butcher of Berlin is self evident, but that bloody conflict may be terminated as speedily as possible and with the least possible human sacrifice it behooves every American subject to exert every energy to the extent of human endurance to hasten that day when world-wide democracy will prevail.

I consider it an honored privilege for the American workers to be in a position to render service to our government in any way possible that will bring about the speedy and successful termination of the conflict now raging fiercely “over there” and as an humble member of the United Mine Workers of America, the largest industrial organization of all time, which has unfalteringly furnished its quota for the trenches and responded to every call of our government and guaranteed to furnish all the coal necessary to victoriously combat the Hun if given the opportunity, I wish to call the attention of the membership of the organization to still another duty which they own our government, themselves and our posterity — the absolute necessity of producing CLEAN COAL.

To maintain our position and carry out the pledges of our organization to the fullest extent it is not only necessary to produce all the coal necessary but it is also our imperative duty to see that all the coal mined and loaded is free of dirt and impurities. Clean coal means greater efficiency; it means a greater output from our munition factories in a given time and an increased production in every industry that is essential to the winning of the war and a speedier transportation service on our railroads. Clean coal when placed in the bunkers of our ships means their increased speed and efficiency and that our soldiers and sailors are guaranteed more safety on the high seas against the submarines of the vicious Huns; it means that our warships and transports will make swifter progress in carrying our boys to the assistance of those “over there,” and food and munitions to the supply the demand of our allies. Clean coal means the hastening of the new day for which every red-blooded American is striving. Clean coal will win the war.

On the other hand, every ton of dirty coal that is produced will retard the wheels of industry and weaken the efficiency of our great war machinery, endanger the lives of our boys on their voyage across the seas and will make our food and munitions and food transports an easier prey to the hellish Huns and serve to prolong the war and increase human sacrifice. Dirty coal is a weapon in the hands of Kaiser Bill, and I most earnestly appeal to every United Mine Worker to work every day possible and above all to produce clean coal, live strictly according to our contracts and our pledges to our government, and in doing this we are but doing our duty and loyally responding to the call of suffering humanity.

In this connection a great deal also depends upon the operator in order that the miner can successfully carry out his obligation to our government, he must co-operate, as without his co-operation the miner is handicapped and in this grave crisis it behooves every American to do his duty regardless of his station in life; there must be no laggards, no frivolous quibblings, and the operator must do his part if we are to be successful in meeting the demand for clean coal. We must stand shoulder to shoulder in this great battle for universal liberty and democracy that will reach to the four corners of the earth.

Thus far in the world conflict the great American labor movement has not been found wanting and it will remain thus unto the end, and I am satisfied that the United Mine Workers will be equal to the task of furnishing all the coal and clean coal that is necessary to usher in that new world with a vibrant, throbbing democracy that will establish the principles of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man.

Source: West Virginia Mine Wars: An Anthology edited by David Alan Corbin Appalachian Editions, 1990, 1997. P. 67-69

About Rod Adams