See updates below the fold!
Earlier this week, Peabody Energy was the target of a genius parody website, Coal Cares™, offering free novelty inhalers to families living within 200 miles of a coal plant along with coupons for $10 off asthma medication in lieu of spending money on pollution-reducing technology at their own coal plants. The spoof site was put together by a group called Coal is Killing Kids through the Yes Lab, a spin-off of the Yes Men.
But then, Peabody decided it wasn’t fair that they were getting all the spotlight, and had their lawyers whip up a quick legal threat. But it wasn’t the expected cease and desist letter to take down the website. Rather, Peabody complained that they were unfairly targeted because while they are the largest coal company, they aren’t the only coal company causing asthma attacks in children.
Rightly so Peabody! In fact, there are 28 other companies that produce energy from coal. Therefore, the Yes Men responded this morning saying that it is only fair to comply by changing the Coal Cares™ website to not only represent Peabody Energy, but all coal companies. The website will now display a rotating selection of names of all the coal producers in the US.
When asked about the new developments, Janet Bellamy, spokesperson for Coal is Killing Kids, had this to say,
“We were happy to oblige! Peabody was right - there are many coal plants out there making kids sick everyday, and they should get their fair share of the credit as well. These coal companies need to be stopped just as much as Peabody Energy. Normally we would fight back, since they really don’t have a legal leg to stand on, but this time, they definitely had a point.”
UPDATE: Here’s the Yes Men legal response letter in all its glory:
The following letter has been sent to lawyers for Peabody Energy in response to their threat:
Dear Andrew Baum, Foley Lardner LLP, and Peabody Energy,
Thank you for your thoughtful letter demanding that we remove Peabody’s name from www.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 Lab
[email protected], (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.