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article imageEnvironmental group exposes 'fake' petition from pro-coal group

By Elizabeth Batt     Jun 29, 2012 in Environment
Washington - A petition submitted to the White House opposing a "hazardous" designation for coal ash recycling is fake, says the Environmental Integrity Project. After a linguistic analysis, "Big Steamed Bun" and "Handsome Dragon" do not exist, the Project said.
The petition issued by Citizens for Recycling First was initially posted on the Obama Administration website in late 2011. Its goal it said, was to "protect coal ash recycling by promptly enacting disposal regulations that do not designate coal ash a 'hazardous waste."
In just one month, the petition had gathered more than 5,400 signatures, enough to require an official White House response from Mathy Stanislaus, the Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.
But after obtaining a linguistic analysis from a Mandarin translator with Transperfect, the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), determined that more than two thousand Mandarin names included in the petition to the White House, were duds.
"Meet coal ash's fake new friends" said the EIP, "Big Steamed Bun" and "Handsome Dragon." These are just two of the false name identified by the analysis which revealed more than 80 non-names such as "Steamed Bun Little Sister" and her sibling, "Small Steamed Bun."
Also on the list were invitations to travel to China. Come to China Big, Come to China China and Come to China Donkey, all signed the petition. But it didn't stop there said the EIP. Thirteen of those that signed their names obviously adored themselves. Handsome Good Looking and Most Handsome Guy, also protested the Environmental Protections Agency's proposed regulation.
Environmental Integrity Project Director Eric Schaeffer, said, "if coal ash is so important to American jobs – as its Congressional supporters insist – why would the industry submit a petition with so many names in Chinese characters?"
The EIP added in a press release issued yesterday, that the exposing of a fake petition from the "astroturfed" pro-coal group was "reminiscent of the 2009 scandal when a lobbying firm retained by an energy trade group sent forged letters to Members of Congress in opposition to climate legislation."
According to the petition analysis, even literary figures leaped from the annals of history to sign. Dasheng Sun, the monkey king in the famed Chinese novel Journey to the West, left his moniker, as did Shanbo Liang, the protagonist in a very well-known legend. The EIP also revealed many signatures generated by software or small group of individuals, that frequently appeared with either the last name or one character altered.
Citizens for Recycling First wrote in their blog last October, that "the 5,000 signatures were particularly hard to gather." The group said it was "grateful to everyone who participated in getting friends, family and associates to sign the petition," and thanked "the American Coal Ash Association and National Ready Mixed Concrete Association," for being particularly helpful.
But an "exhaustive review of every signature that appears in the Citizens for Recycling First petition," tendered the EIP, makes it clear that "the vast majority of the Chinese names in the petition are not authentic." The project then queried, "how few friends does toxic coal ash pollution have?"
Careful EIP, you may just wish to tone down the acerbic rhetoric a bit – martial arts movie star Jet Li, signed twice.
The Environmental Integrity Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization established in March of 2002 by former EPA enforcement attorneys to advocate for effective enforcement of environmental laws.
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