A major coal company offers free asthma inhalers for kids living near smoke-spewing power plants? That might strike one as a particularly lame attempt at damage control.
In a cleverly executed hoax, an environmental group created a website depicting a supposed asthma-relief campaign by the giant coal company Peabody Energy. “Why Free Inhalers? Because COAL CARES,” the spoof site says. “Puff-Puff™ inhalers are available free to any family living within 200 miles of a coal plant, and each inhaler comes with a $10 coupon towards the cost of the asthma medication itself.”
“Wind Kills” and “Solar Burns” – the hoax site also features a page attacking the solar and wind power energy industries as dangerous.
The purpose of the hoax by the group Coal is Killing Kids is to spotlight the coal industry’s fight to thwart proposed tighter pollution controls. A Wired News report about the hoax analyzed the science issues involved, and a business blogger rapped Peabody for its response to the hoax.
The spoof is amusing, but the truth of air pollution killing thousands of people remains not funny for people living along the Wasatch Front, which during winter temperature inversions has the worst air in the country.