Coal Industry Launches New Astroturf Group

Here are the FACES of phony public activism

Yet another astroturf group has emerged from the seemingly bottomless pockets of the coal industry: “Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security” - proudly bringing you the “FACES of Coal”.

This new PR campaign arises amid the ashes of the recently disgraced American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy (ACCCE), implicated in a fraudulent letter writing campaign to Congress. It adds to a growing list of such purportedly grassroots organizations, including the Friends of Coal, Citizens for Coal and Families Organized to Represent the Coal Economy - a group that strangely does not allow families to join.

Despite this coal industry preference for the kind of friends that money can buy, this latest group bills itself as “an alliance of people from all walks of life who have joined forces to educate the general public and lawmakers about the importance of coal and coal mining to our local and national economies.”

Strange then that this campaign is not being run out of a bingo hall or a church basement, but off a flashy but anonymous website with no mailing address or phone number.

So, here’s another grassroots campaign that isn’t trying very hard to find new members and, perhaps more suspiciously, isn’t looking for money. While the website encourages people to send a robo-fax to their Congress member or local newspaper, completely absent from the site is the “donation” button.

An understandable oversight given that many PR firms must now be wading through coal industry cash up to their waists. In the first three months of this year alone, the fossil fuel industry has ramped up PR spending by 50% - shoveling $45 million towards TV, print and radio ads, and of course astroturf groups. Maybe they had a few spare million in the kitty to throw at this latest effort.