How (Not To) To Hammer A Coal Company

The pen is mightier than the sword, but for environmental activists, this is a “don’t try this at home” story with a few lessons.

Early today in Australia, a press release was issued concerning one of our major banks back flipping on a loan to a coal mining operation. The market reaction was swift and reportedly $314 million dollars was wiped off the mining company’s value.

I have no problem with seeing coal companies copping it in the neck, I initially thought it was great news; but the problem is the press release was a fake.

Fake Whitehaven press release
Fake Press Release re: Whitehaven Coal

I enjoy cleverly conceived satire such as the spoof Shell “ArcticReady” campaign; but it becomes clear as you view the site that it is a hoax and yet it is still able to relay its important message.

However, the copy of the press release had nothing to indicate it was a fake. The names it was attributed are real people within the bank. The release was convincing enough that one of Australia’s most respected financial newspapers ran the story.

The hoax was perpetrated by an environmental group who I won’t even bother naming. They’ve had their 15 minutes of infamy now – and have, in my opinion, caused significant damage to the environmental movement in this country and the perception of green activism.

I have no love for coal companies, but just like it’s unwise to carry a knife as it can be turned against you; if environmental activists resort to dirty tricks campaigns of this nature, then in my opinion not only are they are no better than whatever evil they are targeting, they can expect more of the same in response.

The group really didn’t think this through – they may have left themselves wide open to all sorts of nasty legal action; and unfortunately, perhaps they deserve it.

The issue they were trying to draw attention to has become the lesser story; the big story for mainstream media is the lie. I’m sure Dirty Energy will milk this for all it’s worth – and not just in relation to this incident. Giving the coal industry and its backers opportunity to cry victim is not useful.

I believe this group will become somewhat of a poster-child, but for all the wrong reasons. Like some dim-witted corporate fat-cats, some environmental activists need to understand that not all publicity is good publicity.


Radical environmentalism and ecoterrorism