This is the lead photo, of Westar Energy’s Jeffrey Energy Center “spewing emissions” from coal:
Charlie Riedel/AP – Silhouetted against the sky at dusk, emissions spew from the smokestacks at Westar Energy’s Jeffrey Energy Center coal-fired power plant near St. Mary’s, Kan.
And what do you suppose those black, deadly-looking plumes of “emissions” really are?
Condensing steam, that’s what. Just plain water.
Plumes of condensing water vapor normally look white and benign, but by artfully choosing a vantage point to the east of the plant, and a time just after sunset, AP photographer Charlie Riedel managed to make the pretty white plumes look black and threatening.
That power plant has state-of-the-art “scrubbers,” which which cost over $400 million, and which remove 95% of the SO2 and nearly all of the particulate matter. Almost nothing visible is left except steam. Here’s what those same stacks really look like, under normal lighting conditions:
You’ve got to grudgingly admire the AP / Washington Post’s mastery of the propaganda craft.
I sent an email similar to the above to Westar Energy, and got back the following reply:
Subject: Re: Washington Post / AP propaganda photo – “emissions spew” from power plant
To: David Burton
Hello, and thanks for forwarding this information.
We have contacted AP numerous times regarding this photo. We agree that it is a skilled photographer using lighting to create a dramatic image that reinforces the story.
Here’s the latest that Gina Penzig, Director, Corporate Communications, sent:
I appreciate that Charlie is a skilled photographer who used backlighting to capture a dramatic image of the plant that reinforces the emissions story and the perception that power plants are dirty. I fully acknowledge that plants are a source of emissions and the EPA work to reduce emissions has been important. We’re in the midst of spending billions of dollars to change the make up of that plume from our coal plants to almost completely steam. In fact at JEC, we’re very close. (I’d love to set up a tour and talk about what we’ve done. We’re pretty proud of it.)
I’d like to point out that the photo is nearly four years old. I’m not asking that it be replaced with a photo that we provide. I’d challenge the photo editors to look up Jeffrey Energy Center on Google images. You will see a variety of photos from a variety of sources that show a more accurate representation of the plant and what it emits. A photographer can easily capture a plant photo from off of our property, but I’d gladly set up an escort for a photographer who would like to go onto the plant site.
Thank you again for sharing the information with us!