Friends of the Earth asks Obamas professor to reveal payments from Peabody Energy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica, sent a letter to Professor Laurence Tribe requesting that he disclose the full terms of any agreement he has with Peabody Energy. The nation’s largest coal company recently hired Tribe — a Harvard University constitutional law professor who taught President Obama — to represent them in a lawsuit to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from requiring states to reduce power sector carbon pollution.
“I am deeply troubled that you have chosen to represent Peabody Energy in their attacks against the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan,” wrote Pica. “In representing Peabody Energy, you are using your position at Harvard University, and your academic reputation, to promote their corporate agenda. As a legal scholar, I believe it is your duty to the public to be fully transparent about any arrangements that could color your intellectual thought, and to that end I respectfully request that you disclose the full terms of any agreement that you have with Peabody Energy.”
Many legal scholars contend that Tribe’s claims are not based on sound legal reasoning. In an opinion editorial, Tribe made the statement that coal is “a bedrock component of our economy,” and used phrases from coal industry propaganda. Tribe’s lack of specialty or experience with the Clean Air Act also causes concern. His colleagues at Harvard and other esteemed law schools, including experts in environmental law, have said that his arguments have no constitutional validity.
“Taking a trick right from the tobacco industry, the fossil fuel industry is using respected institutions to try to validate their lies,” Pica said separately. Recent investigations have revealed that the fossil fuel industry is pouring millions of dollars into funding the research that denies climate change, including that of Wei-Hock Soon, in order to fight efforts to regulate their activities.
“The public deserves to know the details of what academics are being paid by industry so that they can understand the potential conflicts of interest that might exist,” Pica said separately.