10/17/2016 09:53 EDT | Updated 10/17/2016 09:53 EDT

Canada Has Legions Of Ken Bones Of Its Own

PAUL J. RICHARDS via Getty Images
(FILES) In this file photo dated October 9, 2016 Ken Bone (C) listens to US Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump during the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. As the mud flew at Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton's second presidential debate Sunday, the American everyman became an instant celebrity by calmly asking a question about energy policy. Bone -- even his sturdy name has been a source of amusement on social media -- had been picked to represent undecided voters at the town hall-style debate in St Louis, Missouri. His heft, poise and polite manner offered a brief but refreshing respite from the 90-minute slug-fest between the Republican and Democratic candidates. / AFP / POOL / Paul J. Richards / TO GO WITH AFP STORY 'Ken Bone, everyman hero in a tawdry US campaign' (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

What's "a Boner"? Or, what happens when someone "pulls a Boner"?

Recall Ken Bone, the red-sweatered dude, who during the second presidential debate, asked Hillary and Donald about jobs and fossil fuels?

In his own words, Mr. Bone queried, "What step will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly and minimizing job loss for fossil power plant workers?"

As DeSmog is now discovering, it turns out that Mr. Bone works for one of the dirtiest coal companies around.

Is that a problem for Bone? Nope. Asked about his job by The Washington Post, Bone responded that, "We're one of the most environmentally-friendly coal power plants in the world. We're very recently built.'"

"Most environmentally-friendly coal power plants"? Quite a standard, one might initially think. Until you hear that his standard equates to the plant, each year, "[churning out] more than 13 million tons of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, an amount equivalent to adding 2 million cars to the nation's highways."

Gosh. Quite a exemplar of quality there, Ken.

So how did this red-sweatered troll, posing as an undecided voter, get selected to appear on stage at such an event to ask, "the question"? Typical, it turns out. For starters, he made no prior mention of his deep ties to the fossil fuel industry.

Just a concerned, undecided voter.


This is the same sort of subterfuge, non-disclosure, and out and out deception oozing out of the oil and gas industries these days. Most recently here in Canada, the conflict of interest was sussed out with the National Energy Board, who was looking into the Energy East pipeline project, TransCanada's proposed, 4,500 kilometre, $15.7-billion pipeline project.

Surprise! Turns out, as the National Observer reported, "the NEB board chairman and two review panelists met secretly with former Quebec premier and then-TransCanada consultant Jean Charest."

The problem? "Charest, who had retired from politics, was under contract at that time for TransCanada, the Calgary-based multinational energy company in charge of the Energy East pipeline project. The NEB, which has the powers of a federal court, is not allowed to privately discuss matters that are under review before the Board."

Whether on the national stage, or in local communities, whether on Facebook threads, "Comments" sections and Letters to the Editor in community newspapers, this tactic is omnipresent. Including here in British Columbia with the LNG promoters: apparently ordinary citizens telling us how much the oil and gas industries are so great; so important to the economy and employment.

Then we find out those writing the posts, posing the leading-questions, and explaining the glories of the oil and gas industries, along with LNG, are all done without conveniently disclosing a little fact: Those making the glowing reports have deep political and business ties to those very industries.

Yes, a little fact, but one that's very important. "Conflict of interest" comes to mind.

Worse is the tactic of many fossil fuel proponents using pseudonyms while making their promotions, taking advantage of social media venues that don't require actual disclosure of the name of the person making the comments. Avoiding accountability and transparency, pseudonyms are perfect cover for anyone not wanting to be seen as a Ken Bone wanna-be lurking behind the computer.

People like that, hiding their political and business influences, or those refusing to come out from behind their online pseudonyms, we will now call, in honor of Ken Bone, "Boners."

So think about this next time someone, with or without a name, talks so enthusiastically about the fossil fuel industry. Make sure they aren't trying to, as a verb, pull a Boner on you. It could very well be that the motivation isn't at all factual, but one made out of dollars.

As they say, money really does talk.

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