Doe-eyed, boards-rattling Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik has found a side job these days backing the coal industry. In a Pittsburgh-themed video about the benefits of the everyone's favorite fossil fuel, Orpik skates to the camera and proclaims "I am coal."
The web video (above) is produced by the Secure Energy for America Political Action Committee, a 501(c)4 group dedicated to promoting coal. It's not a particularly wealthy PAC -- it reported about $61,000 in the bank at the end of May and spent about $33,000 backing pro-coal political campaigns in the 2010 cycle. The biggest beneficiaries: new Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. ($20,000), and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. ($12,500). So far this year, it has doled out $2,400 to Republican U.S. Senate candidate George Allen in Virginia, $2,500 to West Virginia Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller's PAC and $5,000 to freshman Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va.The PAC, which formed in 2009, can accept corporate donations and lists Bethel Park-based Consol Energy (title sponsor of Orpik's home arena), Alpha Natural Resources (which recently bought controversial Massey Energy), Arch Coal, Patriot Coal, International Coal Group and other industry heavyweights among its members. It only takes a $1,000 to get a membership.
It also shares a D.C. address -- halfway between the Capitol and the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue -- with the Bituminous Coal Operators Association, which spends several hundred thousand dollars a year on lobbying.