Big Coal Attacks Penn State Climate Scientist (Again)

Photo courtesy <a href="">Michael Mann</a>

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.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.