A version of this post originally appeared on Climate Progress.
Apparently unable to find real activists, the coal industry paid astroturfers $50 to wear pro-coal T-shirts at an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing yesterday.
The EPA hearings, held in Chicago and Washington, D.C., were focused on the agency’s first-ever carbon standards for new power plants. The industry has adamantly opposed these standards, as well as standards on mercury — a pollutant that even Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) admits is harmful.
This year, coal is throwing around its weight by spending tens of millions of dollars on media advertising and political contributions.
Coal is also engaging in fake advocacy campaigns, known as astroturfing. In a Craigslist ad found by the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago, a coal group promised participants $50 to “wear a t-shirt in support of an energy project.” Upon further digging, the Sierra Club blog pieced together much of the deleted Craigslist ad:
People needed to attend a public meeting (Tinley Park /Chicago)
Reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org (email address no longer valid)
Looking for people THIS THURSDAY, MAY 24 who want to make a couple of dollars for a few hours of your time.
All you need to do is wear a t-shirt in support of an energy project for two hours during the public meeting. We will be departing the Tinely Park convention center at 8:15 am for the meeting and we will be back by 1:30 pm. For your time we will pay you $50 cash and provide you lunch once we return to the convention center.
If you can’t beat ‘em, cheat ‘em.