‘Control The Narrative’: Alabama Utility Wields Influence By Financing News

"A Floodlight investigation found Alabama Power runs a news service and its foundation bought a Black newspaper. Neither reports on high electric bills or utility-related pollution"

"In the more than a decade since Alabama regulators allowed a landfill to take in tons of waste from coal-burning power plants around the US, neighbors in the majority-Black community of Uniontown frequently complain of thick air so pungent it makes their eyes burn.

On some days, it can look like an eerily white Christmas in a place that rarely sees snow.

“When the wind blows, all the trees in the area are totally gray and white,” said Ben Eaton, a Uniontown commissioner and president of Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health and Justice, a local group that is pushing to shutter the facility.

Residents of the former plantation town complain of high rates of kidney failure and neuropathy – two symptoms of exposure to coal ash, whose toxic byproduct contains mercury and arsenic. The controversy has been covered for years in local and national news outlets, including a civil rights case Eaton’s group filed – and lost – to close the landfill.

Just last year, coal ash in the state drew national attention when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tentatively denied a state clean-up proposal that it found to be too weak for waste coming in part from its largest electricity provider – Alabama Power.

But neither the news from Uniontown, nor the EPA rejection, ever appeared in the Birmingham Times – a historic African American newspaper – or on the online-only Alabama News Center, an investigation by Floodlight found. A search for “coal ash” in the Birmingham Times yields just one reprinted story from HuffPost, and it’s a reference to coal ash in another state."

Miranda Green reports for Floodlight January 17, 2024.


Source: Guardian, 01/18/2024