Big Coal Attacks Penn State Climate Scientist (Again)

| Fri Feb. 3, 2012 4:35 PM PST

We've documented the long-term effort to malign Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann here rather extensively. Now a coal-backed group is running a smear campaign targeting an upcoming speaking event Mann is holding on campus.

The Common Sense Movement and the Secure Energy for America Political Action Committee (CSM/SEAPAC) have started a petition asking Penn State to cancel Mann's Feb. 9 speech. In the petition, they rehash "Climategate" and accuse him of "allegedly manipulating scientific data to align with his extreme political views on global warming." The group offers a template letter for people to send to "daily newspapers near you" attacking Penn State for hosting a speech by "someone of such questionable ethics."

Who is this "Common Sense Movement"? The website claims to represent "a group of individuals and businesses committed to ensuring the availability of affordable, reliable and secure sources of energy for American consumers." But as Brad Johnson reports at Think Progress, it's a coal front group:

SEAPAC is a wing of the Pittsburgh-based astroturf group Common Sense Movement, which is running the "I Am Coal" campaign. Contributors include James Clifford Forrest III, president of coal company Rosebud Mining, David Young, president of the Bituminous Coal Operators’ Association, and the top executives of Swanson Industries, a West Virginia mining equipment company.

Yes, just your average "American consumers."

Andrew Revkin called out the group's attempt to silence Mann as a "shameful attack on free speech." Thankfully, Penn State has not cowed, as The Guardian reported on Friday.

Perhaps the best part of this is that Mann, a respected scientist, plans to talk about his new book The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars at the event—a book that's largely about this nasty effort on the part of the fossil fuel industry to undermine his work.

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