Linguistic analysis of a White House petition against increased coal-ash regulations — submitted by coal industry front group “Citizens for Recycling First” in late 2011 – revealed that hundreds of Chinese signatures from Colorado on the petition that are less than authentic.
The most basic of the fake names appear to be generated by software or small group of individuals that only changes simple things in the names — names like Fred Smith, Larry Smith, Larry Williams, George Jones, William Jones, James Jones, Henry Jones, Peter Jones.
Other names are more inane, inanimate objects. These names are not traditional Chinese names, but foods or even animals. Some of these names include Steamed Bun, Older Sister, Steamed Bun Little Sister, Big Grey Wolf, Little Duck, and Little White Rabbit.
Some names are, in fact, invitations to travel, such as ”Come to China Big” and “Come to China Donkey.”
Thirteen of the names in the petition include the first name “Handsome”, including “Handsome Six,” “Handsome Good Looking,” “Handsome Dragon” and “Most Handsome Guy.”
Historical literary figures even came out in support of coal ash, including Dasheng Sun, the monkey king in “Journey to the West” (a famous Chinese novel), and Shanbo Liang, who is the protagonist in a well-known Chinese legend.
The petition was asking “to protect coal ash recycling by promptly enacting disposal regulations that do NOT designate coal ash a ‘hazardous waste.’” It gained 5,400 signatures within the first month, warranting an official White House response.
Environmental non-profit group Environmental Integrity Project used linguistic analysis group Transperfect, to analyze the characters on the petition.
In the heated battle over energy, both sides have suffered recent embarrassments due to forgery and fraud. In 2009, the coal industry was embarrassed by a fake congressional letter-writing campaign; in late June 2012, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce criticized President Barack Obama’s administration for releasing a heavily exaggerating green jobs report; and earlier this year, Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick admitted to stealing and also falsely attributing documents to the conservative Heartland Institute.
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