Friends of Coal
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
Friends of Coal is a front group created by the West Virginia Coal Association, which registered the group's domain name in October 2002. (The domain name was registered by Jim LeFew, a spokesman for the association at the time).
Friends of Coal describes itself as being "dedicated to inform and educate West Virginia citizens about the coal industry and its vital role in the state's future. Our goal is to provide a united voice for an industry that has been and remains a critical economic contributor to West Virginia. By working together, we can provide good jobs and benefits for future generations, which will keep our children and grandchildren close to home."
On its website the group states that membership is free.
In 2011, Friends of Coal launched the TV show, The Coal Seam: West Virginia’s Source for News About Our Most Important Industry. Its website states that the show is seen by approximately 500,000 West Virginians each month on the Library Television Network, among other public access channels.
Spruce 1 Mine protests
On January 13, 2011, it was announced that the EPA had vetoed the water permit for the Spruce 1 Mine, the largest single mountaintop removal permit in West Virginia history. In making its decision to veto the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ approval of the 2,300-acre mine, "Final Determination of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Pursuant to § 404(c) of the Clean Water Act Concerning the Spruce No. 1 Mine, Logan County, West Virginia", EPA noted that it reviewed more than 50,000 public comments and held a major public hearing in West Virginia. EPA officials said their agency is “acting under the law and using the best science available to protect water quality, wildlife and Appalachian communities who rely on clean waters for drinking, fishing and swimming.”
In response, Friends of Coal supported a "call to arms" rally planned by Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin for Thursday, January 20th at the state capitol. The rally's "call to arms" was criticized due to the recent shooting of congressional representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona. Friends of Coal later removed the slogan from their website. The group played defensive when contacted by reporter Ken Ward, Jr., calling it "a figure of speech."
In his campaign in Fall 2010, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) made national news for firing a rifle while invoking President Obama's name in the "war on coal." While shooting the gun, Manchin said he would take "dead aim."
Friends of Coal
P.O. Box 3923
Charleston, WV 25339
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- "friendsofcoal.org", Joker.com, accessed February 2009.
- "About", Friends of Coal website, accessed February 2009.
- Ken Ward Jr., "Breaking news: EPA vetoes Spruce Mine permit" Coal Tattoo, Jan. 13, 2011.
- "Industry Group Portrays West Virginia Pro-Coal Rally As a 'Call to Arms'" Jess Leber, Change.org, January 19, 2010.
- Jeff Biggers, "Big Coal's Call to Arms? Should Feds Stop West Virginia Rally from Triggering the Next Arizona?" HuffPo, Jan. 19, 2011.
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