Coal Industry Gets Desperate for Friends


Written by Stephen Lacey

The U.S. Coal industry is so deeply unpopular, it has now turned to its imaginary friends for help.

That’s according to a linguistic analysis of a recent petition opposing new regulation of toxic coal ash. The petition, which was sent to the White House by the coal industry last year, featured more than two thousand Chinese names. That raised the curiosity of the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). So the organization commissioned an analysis of the signatories.

EIP says the analysis shows that hundreds of the names are complete fakes. When translated, many of the Chinese “people” supporting the coal industry’s petition have names like “Steamed Bun Little Sister” and “Come to China Donkey.” The translator who examined the signatures determined that “most of the Chinese names in the petition are not authentic, and … appear to be generated by a piece of software or a group of individuals.”

The analysis of “Citizens for Recycling First” shows that the only recycling this organization is doing is recycling names:

  • Generated by software/small group of individuals. Based on the consistent wording and style of many of these names, they appear to be generated by a piece of software or a small group of individuals. While many of the first names might be real, they appear frequently with either the last name or one character altered. An illustration of a similar randomly combined list of Western names might look something like this:  George Jones, William Jones, James Jones, Henry Jones, Peter Jones, William Smith, Frank Smith, Jim Smith, Larry Smith, etc.
  • Use of non-names. At least 80 of the names identified in Chinese characters in the petition refer to objects or descriptions that are not used as surnames in the Chinese language. These include: Popular food items: Steamed Bun, Older Sister, Steamed Bun Little Sister, Small Steamed Bun and Big Steamed Bun, etc.  Dozens of the names are simply names of animals in Mandarin, including:  Big Bear, Big Grey Wolf, Little Duck, Little White Rabbit and Yellow Tiger.

  • Invitations to travel. Some of the names included in the petition are in fact invitations to visit China, such as: Come to China Big, Come to China Cat, Come to China China, Come to China Donkey, Come to China Little Girl, and so on.
  • Appearance-obsessed fake names.  Thirteen names appearing in the petition include the first name of “Handsome”, including Handsome Six, Handsome Eight, Handsome Good Looking, Handsome Dragon and the Most Handsome Guy.
  • Famous historical/literary figures. Another 30 of the Chinese names in the petition actually identify famous characters in Chinese politics, history or literature. These include: Dasheng Sun: The monkey king in the Journey to the West (a famous Chinese novel) and Shanbo Liang, who is the protagonist in a very well-known legend.

This follows revelations in May that the coal industry paid people $50 to wear pro-coal t-shirts at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing.

With coal consumption dropping precipitously in the U.S., the industry is looking for some friends to help prop it up. But when buying them didn’t work, it appears that making them up was the next best option.

This post was originally published by Climate Progress.


Related Stories:

National Standard To Be Set on Deadly Soot

Bank of America: Strong on Rhetoric, Weak on Climate & Coal

Ozone Attacks Your Heart Within Hours Of Exposure



Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Thank you for this article.

Kelly Rogers5 years ago


J.L. A.
j A5 years ago

may their disingenious approaches lose them trust from decision-makers

Kimberly Simms
Kimberly S5 years ago

The sooner we learn how to power our world using things that are above ground, the better off we'll be.

Carole Cherne
Carole Cherne5 years ago

All the "clean coal" ads make me scream. How people can lie while looking you in the eye is beyond me.

Lynne w.
Lynne wheeler5 years ago

Coal is one of the most toxic materials on the planet. Coal fired generators emit mercury, and coal mines poison the environment. Mother Nature was smart enough to bury toxins in coal seams and coal is a great method of carbon sequestration if it is left in the ground where it belongs. We are fighting a coal mine on Vancouver Island. The mine could destroy a sustainable and thriving shellfish industry which is only a few miles downstream, as well as the drinking water for local residents, and contribute millions of tons of CO2.

Ron B.
Ron B5 years ago

Even stranger than some of these names is the idea that the coal industry would bother going to such ridiculous measures to artificially drum up support for it's poisonous activities. Could it be that Big Coal doesn't have it's political puppets on quite as short a leash as we thought?

Carl Oerke
Carl O5 years ago

Are you kidding me? The only way the Koch Brothers and their ilk could get signatures on their petitions is to buy them or have people add fraudulent ones. Clean coal exists like cold fusion exists. Not on this planet.

Luvenia V.
Luvenia V5 years ago

Robert M., the technology is there and it has been there for years.

Do you really believe that the ONLY way we can produce power is with Oil, Gas and Coal OR even with Wind and Solar?? Please research repressed clean enegry. Know that the inventors have been bought out, threatened, denied patients and MURDERED in cold blood. You believe we can make to Mars, talk to anyone in the world in seconds but for some reason buy into the lies that ONLY the Oil, Gas and Coal people can give you power, WHY???

Why do you think that Hemp is not being grown around the world? Did you know that a car body made with Hemp is stronger than anything they use now? They are telling us lies and until we stop buying into those lies the planet will continue to die and take us with it.