William K. Wolfrum's picture

    The Yes Men & Coal Cares to Peabody Energy and Coal Industry: Stop Killing Kids

    Since my previous post on the satirical Web site CoalCares.org, there have been several interesting developments. First off, the infamous Yes Men have been outed as the masterminds behind the site.

    Secondly, Peabody Energy sent the Yes Men a legal threat to take down the site. You can read that here (pdf). A snippet:

    Your actions have already created substantial confusion actual confusion among the public. Our client has been besieged with emails and telephone inquiries from persons who believe that Peabody is actually involved with the "Coal Cares" website. This may give you the satisfaction of knowing you have helped perpetrate a successful hoax, but it also establishes without question your liability for trademark infringement as well as malicious interference with our client's business.

    Not surprisingly, the Yes Men not only have kept the site up, but they've spread the blame around to other coal companies. The following letter was sent from the Yes Men to lawyers for Peabody Energy in response to the threat:

    Dear Andrew Baum, Foley Lardner LLP, and Peabody Energy,

    Thank you for your thoughtful letter demanding that we remove Peabody’s name fromwww.coalcares.org and cease falsely suggesting that Peabody cares about kids made sick by coal.

    Your threat, although entirely baseless (see this response, and the EFF's blog post later today), did make us realize one thing: that Peabody, despite being our country's largest coal producer, and one of the largest lobbyists against common-sense policy, accounts for a mere 17% of U.S. coal production. The remaining 83% comes from 28 other companies, who are, every bit as much as Peabody, giving kids asthma attacks and other illnesses.

    As even you may agree, the root of the problem is not Peabody, but rather our system of subsidies, regulations, and lobbying that lets your whole industry continue its lethal work. To make this clear, we have changed every instance of the word "Peabody" on www.coalcares.org to a rotating selection of the names of other large U.S. coal producers who, like Peabody, also need to be stopped from killing kids.

    Very truly yours, Coal is Killing Kids and the Yes Labcoalcares@yeslab.org(314) 472-5539

    P.S. You suggest in your letter that "Peabody has a First Amendment right not to be involved with the dissemination of a message with which it does not agree," a statement which, while completely untrue, does recall the World Resources Institute’s longstanding demand that you cease falsely attributing to them the nonsense statistic that "for every 10-fold increase in per-capita energy use, individuals live 10 years longer." As the WRI notes:

    First, WRI has never made such an assertion and has never done analysis to that effect. Second, this conclusion ignores critical factors related to energy production and human health. WRI’s longstanding support for a global transition to cleaner, low-carbon energy is well-documented.
    We would be grateful if you would stop misquoting WRI and issue a corrective statement within the next 24 hours.

    Bravo to the Yes Men for using their satirical skills to bring to light the damage caused by coal companies, as well as for not backing down.

    --WKW

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    Comments

    Peabody operates around the Four Corners Indian Country, too.  Ptui!


    I find the coalcares.org site mildly clever. I find their response re WRI brilliant!


    "negotiated by prominent natural resources attorney John Sterling Boyden, who claimed to be representing the Hopi Tribe while actually on the payroll of Peabody"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Mesa_Peabody_Coal_controversy


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