According to advertisements on CNN, Americans for Balanced Energy Choices is sponsoring the next Democratic debate, which is to air Thursday from Texas.
Americans for Balanced Energy Sources promotes the use of coal, or as the SourceWatch watchdog Web site puts it:
Formed in 2000 to develop astroturf support for coal-based electricity, Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC) promotes the interests of mining companies, coal transporters, and electricity producers. A domain name search reveals that ABEC's website is registered to the coal industry trade organization Center for Energy and Economic Development. (ABEC originally used the www.balancedenergy.org domain but later switched to a website titled America's Power).
According to the Washington Post, the group is spending $35 million on advertising related to the election, in an effort to promote its views.
There's nothing un-American about promoting yourself by spending money, and the group takes some pains on its Web site to point out that it isn't a sponsor of the debate itself, nor does it influence the questions that will be asked. In a post titled Debating Climate Change, Executive Director Joe Lucas wrote:
While we are flattered that there are some people out there who are convinced we can dictate the questions of the debate, the reality is we are merely a sponsor of advertising for the program. Thats it. Nothing more, nothing less. Just as purchasing an ad in a newspaper doesnt skew the editorial content of that paper, the same is true here.
Rather than try to keep the issue of climate policy from coming up, as some folks have suggested we are doing, we are putting our effort to ensure that the issue does come up on the campaign trail. In fact, heres the question wed love to see get asked in one of the debates: How do you plan to help America meet its growing demand for affordable and reliable electricity while addressing the climate change issue? ...
Sure, you can have a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; but if your plan means that America becomes more reliant on foreign energy resources and the cost of energy skyrockets, what kind of solution is that for the country?
As the group says, about half the energy produced in the U.S. comes from coal. And coal is the energy source that produces the most greenhouse gas emissions. How and whether to use coal in the future is a question bound up in the fight against global warming.
What sponsorship ensures is that all those who show up to see the latest debate between the first serious woman and black candidates debate will get a healthy dose of coal propaganda.
You do have to give this group credit. At least they allow unfiltered commenting on the Web site. Its critics are not shy.
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