Tom Friedman of the NYT gets a lot of love around here as the green movement’s great popularizer, someone whose plain-spoken pronouncements can convince politicians and plain folks alike to act on climate change, etc.

So what’s up with the so-called Mustache of Understanding puffing vigorously into his rhetorical trumpet (sub. required) in favor of that fantasy, clean coal?

Here’s Friedman:

All environmentalists have their favorite “green” energy source that they think will break our addiction to oil and slow down climate change. I’ve come out to Montana to see mine. It’s called coal.

He goes on to prattle about “clean” coal technologies, and how the government should subsidize them.

And here is our own David Roberts, writing on Tom Paine:

Meaningful commercialization and deployment [of clean-coal technologies] are likely decades away. Even if that bright day arrives, “clean coal” still involves the environmental devastation of coal mining, the generation of substantial mercury and particulate pollution, and a per-kilowatt energy costs no better than wind and far worse than energy efficiency.

Sounds like Friedman might do well to consider scrapping his coal boosterism in favor of something a bit more practical: say, mustache-based ethanol?