Did Sierra Club Fabricate Anti-Coal Support?

The Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign seeks to shutter energy production across the nation. Maybe it should be renamed “Beyond Ethics.”

In North Carolina, the Sierra Club is pressuring Duke Energy to shutter a coal plant near Asheville, touting a letter supposedly signed by 80 local businesses. However, some of the businesses say they never gave permission for their names to be used for the campaign. And one store that allegedly signed the October letter has been closed since the spring.

It should be easy to get to the bottom of who’s right and who’s wrong here. The Sierra Club campaigners surely kept written records of these businesses giving permission for their names to be used, right?

Well, the Sierra Club is refusing to produce them, after agreeing to produce them a month ago:

Campaign officials agreed to provide the Citizen-Times verification that they had obtained permission to include the business names on the letter during an Oct. 20 meeting with the Citizen-Times.

Sierra Club state Beyond Coal Campaign leader Kelly Martin proposed the idea of using emails collected by campaign officials as proof of owner permissions. …

Alliance co-director Julie Mayfield also attended the Oct. 20 meeting. Martin and Mayfield have not responded to phone messages and emails.

Now, a Sierra Club spokesman told the media, “The Sierra Club stands by our organizers and we are not responding to any further inquiries on this issue you have cultivated from nothing.”

“Shut up and stop asking questions” is not the response of a campaign that is confident it is playing aboveboard.

The Sierra Club’s stonewalling has now drawn comment from charity watchdogs. A representative of Charity Navigator told local media that “Not providing the emails is not ethical, obviously. It’s really disturbing, actually.” The head of CharityWatch stated that the Sierra Club has “a clear ethical and moral obligation to defend their campaign and mention of their supporters as truthful.”

Coal provides nearly 40% of our nation’s energy. Shutting down coal entirely, as the Sierra Club wants, would have devastating effects on the economy. If the Sierra Club can’t find much public support for its campaign, maybe that’s why. As for its campaign in Asheville, how much carbon emission is generated by burning bridges?

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