"It's a sad testament to the impact of campaign contributions, our system and the political clout of this industry that you have very sensible politicians, including great men like Barack Obama, who feel the need to parrot the talking points of this industry that is so destructive to our country," said Kennedy, who was reportedly under consideration as Obama's Environmental Protection Agency director.
The battle over "clean coal" is being played out now on cable news channels, where both sides have run a series of advocacy commercials.
To counter the coal industry's commercials with President Obama, environmental groups have used wicked humor.
Click here to see the anti-clean coal commercials.
Showing an empty field, the announcer says, "Clean coal, heard a lot about it, so let's take a look at the clean coal state of the art facility. Amazing."
Another commercial, produced by the Coen brothers, shows a man spraying black coal dust. "It smells so clean," the announcer says. "Clean coal harnesses the awesome power of the word 'clean' to make it sound like the cleanest clean there is. Clean coal is supported by the coal industry, the most trusted name in coal."
The coal industry is unbowed. "I feel like we can be the good guys here, and we have to be the good guys here if we're really going to address climate change," says Miller of the industry group.