Greenwash of the Week: Coal industry buys off CNN debates

Written by Luke

Topics: Coal

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GreenwashComing to us via Think Progress:

In Democratic presidential debate last night, CNN once again failed to ask any questions about global warming. Perhaps not surprisingly, last night’s debate was sponsored by the coal front group Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC).

Considering that this is an ongoing greenwash and a blatant attempt to buy the presidential candidates’ silence on one of the most important issues facing the human race, “greenwash of the century” is probably more accurate. “Americans for Balanced Energy Choices,” the coal industry front group funding the debates, is trying to defend the indefensible. No reasonable argument can be made for allowing the construction of new coal-fired power plants at this point in time, but they’re hoping to build as many new coal plants as possible before the public catches on. All the industry has left are PR smoke-screens (talk of unproven, hypothetical carbon-capture schemes, the myth of clean coal) and outright bribery. Either CNN is even more clueless than their usual coverage would suggest or the coal industry has succeeded in paying off the network to ignore global warming during the debates.

In other words, because the industry knows that they would lose on the merits if any real debate were to be had about coal in this country, they have actually bought out the presidential debates to prevent one from taking place. It’s part of a massive industry greenwashing campaign to keep us burning as much coal as possible for as long as possible. Their efforts have been pretty successful, and not just on CNN: across all major networks in 2007, reporters asked candidates 2769 questions; just 3 were about global warming.

4 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. sparki says:

    This should be more like “Greenwash of the Year.”

  2. sparki says:

    here’s a link to some students taking a little direct action against ABECs clean coal goons (hopefully we’ll see more of this)–

    also our friends at sourcewatch have compiled a profile on them if you’d like to forward to any curious media types-

  3. Dr. Glen Barry says:

    Here is a nomination for next week’s greenwash. Can you imagine, the RAINFOREST Alliance supporting continued industrial logging of primary rainforests? Certainly RAN must be shocked.


    Disguised as Rainforest Creatures, Activists Expose Greenwashing by Rainforest Alliance

    Demand End of Certification of Rainforest Destruction

    (New York, New York) – Thursday the New York Climate Action Group (NYCAG) joins other environmental organizations denouncing Rainforest Alliance for profiting financially from the destruction of rainforests.

    NYCAG is demanding a permanent end to the industrial logging of old-growth forests worldwide. Dressed as creatures from the rainforests of the world, environmentalists from New York City will participate in a festive rally to greet and inform the participants at a Rainforest Alliance cocktail party.

    Scientific studies have shown that industrial logging in old-growth rainforests is never sustainable and leads to their permanent destruction by ranchers, mining operations, and industrial agricultural interests. Rainforest Alliance receives 30% of its funding by certifying industrial logging through their “Smartwood” program. They are the largest such certifier in the world. “Smartwood” certification follows Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) guidelines, which Rainforest Alliance claims will ensure sustainable forestry. In truth, however, FSC guidelines allow first-time logging of pristine ancient forests. These forests are recognized by climate scientists worldwide as our greatest defense against climate change.

    Many cocktail party attendees coming expecting pina coladas will first be met by activists disguised as rain forest creatures, including an array of wild birds and mammals and even a gorilla to represent those imperiled because of certified logging schemes similar to Smartwood in the Congo.

    The watchdog group, FSC-Watch, is directed by one of the founders of FSC Simon Counsell, who became its greatest critic. They have reported that, in addition to legal unsustainable logging, SmartWood has issued FSC certificates to various companies involved in illegal logging; its parent organization, Rainforest Alliance, also issued ‘ethical certificates’ to a company which that was actually working with Colombian terrorists.

    In recent weeks, opponents of FSC certification of old-growth forest logging have achieved important victories. On January 17th the city council of Ocean City (New Jersey) voted unanimously to cancel a $1.1 million purchase of ipê timber from ancient rainforests, despite claims that its FSC certification ensured sustainability. Dr. Glen Barry, of Ecological Internet, responded, “The message is getting through: for our survival rainforest logging must end. Remaining rainforests must be protected and allowed to expand, with compensation to local peoples.”

    But is the message getting through?

    Explains NYCAG member Emily Sandusky, dressed as a gorilla, “I hope Rainforest Alliance will recognize that FSC certification of old-growth tropical timber is certifying the destruction of the rainforest.”

    The activists urged Rainforest Alliance to recognize the need to support permanent protected status for the world’s remaining old growth forests. The animals will ask cocktail party-goers to use their influence to get Rainforest Alliance to change its ways and to stop selling old growth rainforest timber products. Rainforest Alliance will also be urged to support NYCAG efforts to end New York City’s use of tropical hardwoods.

    For more information on the FALSE $OLUTION of certification, visit


    Date/Time: Thursday, January 24, 7pm at RA Headquarters, 665 Broadway (near E. 3rd St.)

    Contacts for more information:
    Emily Sandusky, Founding Member of NYCAG, telephone: 1.315 576 1747

    Dr. Tom Struhsaker, Duke University, Author of Ecology of an African Rain Forest: Logging in Kibale and the conflict between conservation and exploitation.

    Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet –; telephone: 1.920 776 1075

  4. making money says:

    Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. And it will leave you unfulfilled.

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