Coal Front Group Pulls Website Using Kids To Spout Industry Propaganda

learncoal3.gif On Feb. 14, ThinkProgress reported that Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC) — the coal front group that has sponsored multiple presidential debates and whose members paid for an advertisement comparing the governor of Kansas to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — was using children to propagandize for coal interests on a wesbite, LearnAboutCoal.org.

Now the website has been shut down. Typing its URL into your browser leads you to an authorization request, and searching for the site on Google redirects you to ABEC’s main website.

ThinkProgress contacted ABEC to ask about why the site had been dismantled. Executive Director Joe Lucas explained that LearnAboutCoal.org was designed for a 2005 campaign and only remained up because “a small rural electric coop” in Iowa was running ads directing viewers to the site. That Iowa campaign, Lucas said, finished in January, and now ABEC is pushing viewers to their current campaign, AmericasPower.org. However, he did not explain why the site was working as late as mid-February.

“We have a significant campaign budget designated to send traffic to the America’s Power site,” Lucas said. Lucas is referring to ABEC’s $35 million dollar 2008 campaign, which by mid-January had “spent $1.3 million on billboard, newspaper, television and radio ads in Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina.”

UPDATE: On Friday, Glenn Beck and conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg disparaged environmentalists for using children in “relentless propagandizing.” Neither of them mentioned Big Coal’s reliance on kid shills:

BECK: And yet I watch these TV commercials where, all of them, for these SUVs, these green SUVs, are all the children saying, “I don’t know if I can ride in that car, mom. I don`t want to be dropped off in that car.” They’re using the children almost to shame the parents into it. […]

GOLDBERG: You should find some clips from the old cartoon “Captain Planet.” It was just relentless propagandizing of children where the villains were all these cartoonish — literally cartoonish — corporate CEOs who wanted to destroy the environment. And all that — the only thing that could save the world was if all the children from all over the world got together and formed this super hero to save the planet. It was pure environmental propaganda.