Americans For Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC) — the coal industry front group that has sponsored multiple presidential debates and whose members paid for an advertisement comparing the governor of Kansas to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — has sunk to new lows.
On a website, LearnAboutCoal.org, ABEC uses cute young children to make the case for coal. Upon loading the site, viewers may encounter a cheerful “Daniella” who says, “I may be a kid, but we’re a lot alike. We both want affordable, reliable energy and a clean environment! Well, luckily, we can have our cake — and eat it too.”
Or viewers may encounter “Adam,” who says: “I’m pretty stoked about the future of energy in this country. One reason for that is that I’ve taken the time to learn more about American coal.” The site includes four “commercials” of kids marketing coal. ABEC’s scripts for the children ensure that Daniella and Adam’s “friends” who pepper the site are just as enthusiastic about coal as they are:
— ‘Sarah’: Sometimes it’s okay to rely upon other countries to get some of our energy, but it’s better to get it here at home. That’s why I’m glad to know that we have a 250 year supply of American coal available right here in America. … I’m doing my homework. You do yours too.
— ‘Connor’: Did you know that electricity from coal is half the cost of other fuels? Hey, look at the facts and you’ll agree. Electricity from coal? It’s a bargain.
— ‘Luke’: “Coal will remain the dominant fuel for electricity generation in our country for at least the next several decades — maybe even beyond that. … Is coal a fuel for America’s future? Actually, we can’t afford for it not to be. Learn about coal! You might surprise yourself.”
Yesterday, the Physicians for Social Responsibility blasted ABEC for its unethical exploitation of children to shill for an energy source that causes so many health risks for kids:
Coal-fired power plants also are the single largest source of mercury emissions in the U.S. Pregnant women and children are especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of mercury, which can damage the brain and cause learning disorders and impairments in motor function. No parent would allow their child to be exposed to such danger; yet, across the country, as many as 600,000 children are born each year with increased risk of developmental disorders because of mercury exposure in the womb.
As young “Adam” says on the ABEC website, “I bet you found out some things about coal you didn’t know before.” Indeed, the site reveals just how low the coal industry will stoop to disseminate propaganda.