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Is This the Worst Website on Coal for Kids in the Nation?

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While Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn makes an admirable push to limit exposure to television for kids in daycare this month, his administration continues to flaunt a creepy, outdated and blatantly deceiving website on coal for children.

Quinn's campaign for governormay be on the uptick these days, but his state's abysmal website for kids remains a disgraceful holdover from the former Gov. Rod Blagojevich years.

Four years after the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's Office of Coal Development website for kids was first called out--on the 100th anniversary of the Cherry Hill coal mine disaster, which included four child laborers--Quinn continues to allow the widely denounced public relations front for the coal industry to represent his administration. Last month, after years of citizen petitioning, the state finally released a reviewof its embarrassing coal education program for schools.

As Phillip Gonet, president of the Illinois Coal Association, crowed last week: "Governor Quinn's been pretty supportive for coal."

Pretty supportive? That's a neat understatement. Standing in the ruins from record flooding and drought this year, Quinn cast all concern about climate change to the wind and cheered his state's mind-boggling record coal exports--despite the fact that his administration has refused to enact a coal severance tax, turns a blind eye on the state's antiquated coal sales tax, and a new study that concludes the state of Illinois loses nearly $20 million annually to maintain the coal industry.

What about kids, and kids of coal miners, and kids of families affected by reckless coal mining?

Well, kids, let's ask Gov. Quinn's kid's website for answers on coal:

For coal miners:

Despite a recent medical study that cites a "sense of urgency and the need for vigilance in medical research, clinical diagnosis, and exposure prevention" to deal with rising black lung disease among young coal miners, the Illinois website doesn't even mention black lung disease or the fact that preventable disease from coal dust inhalation is increasing for coal miners.

The site also overlooks and refuses to acknowledge the state's heroic battle to end legal African American slavery in the coal mines, end child labor, and stage some of the most important union battles for workplace safety and fair wages.

How does coal affect the environment?

Perhaps because of Quinn's shameless record on coal slurry, the kid's website flat out refuses to talk about coal slurry impoundment sites, coal ash, mercury pollution and the myriad environmental effects of coal mining and burning.

In fact, despite the fact that Texas-based Dynegy is attempting this month to get a long-term waiver from environmental regulations on its purchase of five of Ameren's notorious dirty coal-fired plants in Illinois, and that Dynegy blasted the burning of Illinois' own high sulfur coal as environmentally "unsuccessful and resulted in costly equipment repairs," Quinn's Illinois website tells children in the past tense: "Technologies were developed to remove these chemicals from coal before, during and after it is burned. These technologies are called clean-coal technologies. "

That good ol' clean coal again.

Too bad that Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal company whose founder is buried in Quinn's Oak Park, admitted last week that carbon capture and storage "clean coal" is "simply not commercially available."

Here's a shot of the Illinois kid's page on the environment:

And Quinn's kid's website on land reclamation?

Despite the fact that there are over 1,300 abandoned coal mines in Illinois, and the peered-review International Journal of Mining, Reclamation and Environmental concluded in 2006: "Mined land cropped for bond release commonly becomes unmanaged grasslands. Scant mineland is returned to trees, with survival and growth poorer than on reclaimed minelands preregulation. Problems include high soil strength, poor water relations and excessive ground cover. Sustainable plant communities have not developed"--Gov. Quinn continues to let a creepy coal cartoon figure tell Illinois children that land reclamation "is returning the land to the way it was or better than before mining."


Gov. Quinn, it's time to reclaim this website for children, and tell the truth about dirty coal.

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