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“On Coal River”

September 7, 2009

Outed! Will Obama Meet the Real FACES of Coal or Exposed Big Coal Front?

Published on Thursday, August 27, 2009 by CommonDreams.org & Disseminated by The Erie Wire

by Jeff Biggers

Question of the week: As Capitol Hill and the various Obama administration agencies hold meetings with coalfield residents and coal industry representatives, as part of their fact-finding process of making major decisions on mountaintop removal, coal and climate change policies, will they meet the “real” faces of coal or Big Coal mannequins?

From forged letters to fake rallies, the revelations over Big Coal’s public relations machinations continue. Today’s candidate for the “bogus coal front of the week” is FACES, the Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security.

Thanks to the indefatigable Appalachian Voices research team, the specious FACES front has been outed, again. So out of touch with coalfield residents and realities, the public relations firm behind the FACES pro-coal front group has even resorted to buying stock photos to use as portraits of its “supporters” and alliance “members.”

Check out the “About Us” section of coalfield FACES supporters:

http://www.facesofcoal.org/?page_id=18
And then check out this great stock footage:

For more hilarious stock photos and their grafting onto the FACES website, see the Appalachian Voices blog:

http://www.appvoices.org/index.php/frontporch/blogposts/farces_of_coals_fake_supporters/

Launched last week as “an alliance of individuals from all walks of life who have joined forces to educate lawmakers and the general public about the importance of coal and coal mining to our local and national economies,” a series of investigative blogs have shown that this so-called grassroots effort is simply another public relations project coordinated by an inside the Beltway firm.

DeSmog Blog author James Hoggan outed FACES yesterday, finding that: “The latest “grassroots” organization to join the public conversation on behalf of the coal industry, appears to be a project of the K-Street public relations firm, the Adfero Group, one of industry’s most accommodating voices in Washington, D.C. The FACES website, which includes no contact information, is registered to Adfero.

Hoggan’s post is here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-hoggan/new-grassroots-pro-coal-g_b_268542.html

And fellow DeSmog blogger Kevin Grandia has been a blue tick hound on the trail of bogus Big Coal campaigns for ages: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-grandia

Who are the “real” faces of coal and the coalfields?

Try a Wyoming rancher, a Navajo elder, a Southern community organizer, a Latino immigrant organizer from Chicago, a young indigenous Ottawa woman from Michigan, and an Appalachian coal miner’s widow–these informed coalfield residents from across the United States traveled to Washington, DC this spring to educate Obama administrators and the US Congress on the impact of coal in their communities. Read their personal stories here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-biggers/mr-king-coals-neighborhoo_b_193280.html

Here are a few other real faces in the coalfields:

Kathy Selvage, in Wise County, Virginia:

Judy Bonds and Coal River Valley residents in West Virginia (in the Coal Country film):

Retired coal miner Ed Wiley and Maria Lambert in the West Virginia coalfields:

Or, the 1,000 coal miners that still die annually from black lung disease:

Jeff Biggers is the author of The United States of Appalachia, and the forthcoming, Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland (The Nation/Basic Books).

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