Image courtesy of Isaac Brekken for NYT
Sure, preying upon peoples' sensibilities by using kids to push your product is a good start, but - when you're Big Coal - that type of PR work is just the tip of the iceberg. As we briefly mentioned in a prior piece, Big Coal has funneled $35 million into an organization called "Americans for Balanced Energy Choices" (ABEC) to counter the "smears" and "misperceptions" it alleges have wrongly tarnished its "reputable" name.
Kevin Grandia at DeSmogBlog recently unearthed a copy of the organization's request for proposals for PR assistance in Nevada, touting - among other dubious things - the importance of selling Americans on the benefits of "clean coal."According to the request, ABEC's stated campaign goals include: "increase general public awareness of the importance of coal to America's energy mix," "educate key audiences on industry advances in the development and deployment of clean coal technology," "help shape near-term, crucial state policy decisions through the implementation of an effective public affairs and media relations campaign" and - most importantly - "enhance the image and credibility of ABEC."
And what better way of capitalizing on heightened consumer awareness than by sponsoring one of the MSM's largest draws: the presidential campaign. As reported by Think Progress' Amanda Terkel, ABEC sponsored the recent Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina during which (surprise, surprise) no questions about global warming were raised by CNN's moderators.
The list goes on:
"ABEC also co-sponsored November's CNN/YouTube debates in Nevada and Florida, at which no questions about global warming were asked . . . What is ABEC receiving in return for its support of CNN's debate? Besides branding on tv and newspaper ads, ThinkProgress has learned that at November's Democratic debate in Nevada, ABEC was given a special area near the debate's entrance to hand out "clean coal" brochures. No other organizations were allowed to distribute materials in that prime area."
ABEC has so far spent close to $1.3 million "on billboard, newspaper, television and radio ads in Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina" (you can see their TV ad from the debate on the ThinkProgress website); at this rate, one can imagine that it will likely spend several millions more before the real presidential election gets underway.
Via ::Think Progress: No Questions On Global Warming Asked At CNN's Coal Industry-Sponsored Presidential Debates (blog), ::DeSmogBlog: Americans For Balanced Energy Choices "Clean Coal" PR Spin Campaign Revealed (blog)
See also: ::Big Coal Turning Kids Into Pushers This Primary Season, ::As Goes Nevada, So Goes The Planet: Three Lumps Of Coal On The Slots Machine, ::Big Coal Gets Wired: With A Little Help From Its Friends