Like in Australia, the US the coal industry go to some pretty extreme lengths to to make themselves seem like 'good, nice, safe and friendly people'.
The latest from the US Blog www.thisisreality.org say that the US Coal Lobby have just undertaken an $20 million online media blitz for “shaping public attitudes on coal”. In Washington, for every pro-environment lobbyist there are 5 working for coal companies.
Undoubtedly, this kind of money means more spruiking of 'clean coal', which as a climate change response is just as true as someone telling you that brushing your teeth with fairy floss will mean less trips to the dentist or that camel-toes in women's pants are flattering.
So why does the coal lobby spend so much money trying to convince us that coal is clean (it isn't), jobs will be lost if we transition to renewable energy (they won't) or that going to Copenhagen with a 5% emissions reduction target is 'responsible' (ummmm...nup!)?
This behaviour can be explained by greed and the risk of large corporate profits being scaled-back and divided-up. There is much rhetoric about a 'buffet' of solutions to our climate problem, but fundamentally this means divvying up coal profits into smaller chunks and sharing the profit pie. It also explains while Carbon Capture and Storage is being flogged as a 'solution' as it keeps money in the hands of vested coal interests.
So how to protect your greedy interests and get away with it?
There's no better magic wand that PR. The Coal Lobby's vested interests are protected by a glossy veneer produced by multi-billion dollar PR and Marketing campaigns, the objective being to wolvishly dress bad intentions in sheep's clothing for the explicit purpose of ensuring that profits are protected and no-one looses their million-dollar home in Rose Bay.
I have reproduced excerpts below from a PR company representing NSW Mining - what gall! The PR company suggested that a green publication use “passionate environmentalist” and NSW Mining CEO Nikki Willams as a spokesperson for a future story on the environment, this raises a few questions:
PR People: “NSW Mining is one of the most profitable Australian industries. Contributing more than $2 billion annually in taxes and royalties, NSW generates about 250,000 direct and indirect jobs in NSW.”
So you can afford a just transition to renewable energy and green jobs? Why then are you asking for tax-payer handouts under the CPRS and a 5% emissions reduction target?
PR People: “If you are working on any environmental/mining stories and would like some expert input, NSW Mining CEO Nikki Williams is wonderful spokesperson and an incredibly passionate environmentalist.”
Obviously – I've seen her at the local coop, a couple of protests and riding her bike to work (not).
PR People: “...To give you a little background on her, 49 year old Nikki is a senior marketing and business development manager who has worked the African, Asian and European geographies with Shell and Exxon operating in the coal, oil, gas and chemical industries.”
She is obviously very good at selling coal. And what an outstanding environmental track-record Nikki, might I nominate you for a Banksia Award?
And it gets better:
“She (Nikki) has been CEO of the Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association; Business Development Director for the UK based QP Group; GM Marketing and Business Development for corProcure; Director Public Affairs for the World Coal Institute; Regional Supply Manager for Shell Coal International – trading 13 mt of coal from China, South Africa, Australia, Russia and Eastern Europe; Business Development Manager (Sub-Saharan Africa) for Shell Gas International; and Industrial Relations Officer with Esso Australia.”
Has anyone ever told Nikki that burning coal is a major contributor to climate change. Obviously, part of the solution Nikki, 13 megatonnes traden - you little ripper!
Don't call us Nikki, we'll call you.
If you see any other PR releases trying to sell the coal industry spokespeople as 'environmentalists' I would be very interested to see them.