Nematodes among the "grassroots"

Have you heard this message from your friendly neighborhood power company?

"Hello, this message is for Council Member Dan Besse.

My name is Tabitha, and I'm contacting you on behalf of Americans for Balanced Energy Choices, a non-profit, non-partisan pro-coal group. We are contacting only elected officials today.

As an organization we need your input on the energy mix moving forward. We feel that clean coal technology should be a major part of this movement, but of course only you know what's best for you and your community.

If you agree that clean coal technology should play an important role in America's energy future, please contact me for additional information.

My direct toll-free number is 866-658-8334.

Thank you and have a great day."

Received Wednesday 2/27/08, 4:21 p.m. EST at 336-722-1674. Transcribed from answering machine tape. Background noise appears to be other voices making calls.

"Americans for Balanced Energy Choices" is an "astroturf" [fake grassroots] organization funded by the utilities and energy companies, previously best known in our state for its pro-nuclear power campaigns. Among other strategies, ABEC will send representatives to public hearings, portraying themselves as concerned citizens speaking for a citizen group, and not revealing ABEC's funding sources.

It has apparently started a new marketing effort in North Carolina aimed at elected officials. The timing of this "pro-coal" message may relate to recent public advocacy in North Carolina in opposition to the permitting or construction of new coal-fired power plants. For further details on ABEC, see (If this link doesn't work, cut and paste in your browser.)

I'd encourage folks to warn your local elected officials about this slick industry lobbying effort. Don't be fooled!


Well, Dan.

You continue to impress me not only on your basic fundamental views, but your ability to call a spade, well, a fake grassroots effort. It was a pleasure not only meeting with you in WS on Sunday, but also hearing you wow the crowd on Monday. While I'm not one to technically endorse pre-primary, you are my horse. I've got all I've got riding on you until May, and I urge you to call upon me if you need me, no matter what. Keep fighting the good fight.

P.S.- Yes, I wear sandals in the winter. Wanna fight about it?


P.S.- Yes, I wear sandals in the winter. Wanna fight about it?


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Americans for Balanced Mercury Choices

Thanks Dan. I linkified your link. Weren't they originally called Americans for Balanced Mercury Choices?

Choices? Would you like some cooked endangered freshwater mussels with that coal-fired power plant water intake and discharge? Oh, I'm sorry, because of the drought, power plants and endangered species are off the menu. Try a different choice.

Calling Laura Leslie:

exposing this kind of devious behavior by the utility companies is exactly the kind of story public broadcasting is meant for (hint hint).

I'll buy you a latte, some sort of muffin-type snack, and I will even walk your dog (briefly) if you do us a solid on this. :)

Good idea

C'mon Laura - this is the kind of thing that should be investigated and exposed. You're just the girl to do it. Because I know you don't have anything else to do. (hahahahahaha)

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi


Did someone say "dog-walking?"

As Linda kindly pointed out (thank you), I'm a little booked up with primary coverage at the moment. But still, I'm really interested. Can you send me more info?

By the way, thanks for thinking of me, seriously. It's a real compliment.

Laura Leslie
(Barkeep, Isaac Hunter's Tavern)

Laura Leslie
blogger/reporter for WRAL @NCCapitol
Former Barkeep of Isaac Hunter's Tavern

Are they worried about you Dan?

As LG, you would be the worst nightmare for Big Energy Polluters. I sure hope you're spreading this story far and wide.

This place could have used a little Dan Besse...

nitro, wv

I was passing through Nitro, West Virginia yesterday, looked over my shoulder and thought "Hey! There go those three missing units from Wake County!"

Can you imagine fighting big energy in a state like West Virginia? These folks didn't stand a chance.

We do. Thank you, Dan.

Huntington, WV

I got a sister in law who lives right outside of Huntington and works at the hospital there. Her husband is a retired Huntington fireman and a native of the area.

I have been traveling to that area for the last 15 years and it is amazing how the landscape has changed over that time. I can image how it has changed during my brother in laws lifetime.

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

My Wife was raised there

And both my kids were born at Cabell. My wife's family has roots all through the tri-state area back to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. I can only wonder at what it must have looked like then, though I got a good idea when I first visited her family. My in-laws had moved over to Lawrence County, KY just after my wife graduated high school, and the old farmhouse still didn't have indoor plumbing when we met in the late '80s. That wasn't even unusual there then. Water came up from a well in a bucket. It was a big deal when the dirt holler got gravel, though it's real blacktop now. The old farmhouse has passed into the realm of memories and photo albums now, replaced by one o' them new-fangled double-wides.

Frankly, I liked the farmhouse with the well and the bucket, and the rickety old outhouse out back yonder that needed to be moved and repaired every six months, and the humongous cast iron wood stove that heated the house and water for baths and doubled as a cookstove and took up half the kitchen, on the dirt holler that you couldn't drive up in the winter or when the creek flooded.

I feel a blog post coming on...

Of course I'm crazy, I'm a blogger. What's your excuse?

Of course I'm crazy, I'm a blogger. What's your excuse?

Lots of WV ties here

Wanting to escape Northern New Jersey, I went to college in Buckhannon, WV, at WV Wesleyan. I know Nitro. and Huntington. WV is a beautiful state that has been raped for its coal. Her people are mostly poor, her children are wonderful (I've taught some of them), and I love the place. How do we clone Mr. Besse?

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

WV really needs someone

who gives a damn.

(I went to Marshall for a while, btw, though I didn't finish.)

Of course I'm crazy, I'm a blogger. What's your excuse?

Of course I'm crazy, I'm a blogger. What's your excuse?

Thanks for the heads up, Dan.

I'm more of a fescue type of guy. I really despise corporate astroturf.

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

North Carolina. Turning the South Blue!

Glad to be helpful!

And I appreciate y'all spreading the word.

One thing about these folks--they ARE slick. The voice on my voicemail was one of the smoothest professional callers I've heard, and even pronounced my name right. That's usually a sure sign that someone has done their homework.

Dan Besse
Democrat for Lieutenant Governor

Dan Besse

ABEC ads in Ohio

It's not just NC. From Gristmill: ABEC ads in Ohio

Speaking of fossil shenanigans, check out the blitz of advertising coal front group ABEC is running in Ohio in advance of the presidential primary there. I've been trying to pick the creepiest one, but's pretty tough. I think the two winners are the audio ad to your right and the print ad below the fold: