The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming is holding an investigative hearing on Thursday to further probe fraudulent letters sent to Congress by the coal industry’s public relations machine in an effort to derail clean energy and climate legislation.
The committee, chaired by Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), has uncovered more than a dozen fraudulent letters sent to several members of Congress by Astroturf specialists Bonner & Associates, who were operating under contract for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE).
Markey’s committee hearing will feature some of the central figures in the controversy, including victims of the fraud. DeSmogBlog has written extensively on Bonner’s Astroturf work for ACCCE, documenting the disgraced D.C. firm’s attempts to derail passage of the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill. Fraudulent letters originating from Bonner’s office were sent on behalf of groups representing senior citizens, women, minorities and veterans in a repugnant scam.
Beyond exploring the specific evidence of Bonner’s fraud on Congress at the behest of the coal industry, the hearing will look generally at the practice of Astroturf, a vile public relations tactic sullying current debates over health care and energy legislation. Industry-funded Astroturf involves the creation of a false appearance of actual grassroots support – often orchestrated by former tobacco lobbyists and fossil fuel industry apologists.
Astroturf is eroding American political discourse, as discussed by DeSmogBlog co-founders Jim Hoggan and Richard Littlemore in their new book Climate Cover-Up.
Check back with DeSmogBlog after the hearing Thursday to learn what the committee has uncovered in the Bonner/ACCCE episode, and how Congress plans to put an end to the shady practice of Astroturf.
Details on Thursday’s Hearing:
WHAT: Select Committee hearing: “Fraudulent Letters Opposing Clean Energy Legislation.”
WHEN: Thursday, October 15, 2009, 9:30 AM
WHERE: 210 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, DC and online at http://globalwarming.house.gov/
WHO: Witnesses to be announced