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Of Friendly Lawsuits and Potemkin Protests

In his enjoyably readable recent Little Green Book of Eco-Fascism, James Delingpole of Ricochet and London Telegraph explores the left's tactic of "Friendly Lawsuits." These are built around the concept of Bad Cop, Worse Cop; with the EPA pretending to be the marginally less loathsome guys, who pretend to be "forced" into action via lawsuits from Greenpeace or another radical environmentalist group. As Delingpole writes, both groups are "often staffed by exactly the same kind of people, with exactly the same violently anti-capitalist aims. The only difference is that the state employees have to be a bit more discreet about it":

Here’s how one of their favorite scams works: the “friendly lawsuit.” Suppose, for example, some bright spark at the EPA has dreamed up yet another brilliant enviro-fascistic scheme to destroy industry. A new regulation, maybe, to force coal-fired plants to install haze-reducing, pollution-control equipment at a cost of $ 1.5 billion. Well, of course, there might be a few complaints from the evil coal industry.

In order to bypass potential legal resistance, the EPA puts on its innocent face and deploys the time-honored playground excuse: “bad boys made me do it.” It does this by quietly asking its friends at the Environmental Defense Fund to file a lawsuit against the EPA, demanding that the EPA introduce the very same legislation that the EPA wanted anyway.

When the coal industry complains that jobs are being killed, prices inflated, and margins reduced by new regulations which nobody save a few hard-left activists wanted or needed, the EPA replies that it had no choice: it acted in order to settle a lawsuit by environmental groups.

In any other criminal business—such as arranging deliberate motor crashes in order to make false claims for whiplash injuries—this would qualify as fraud and a conviction would result in jail sentences. Apparently, though, where the environment industry is concerned, such moral and legal niceties need not apply.

Which sounds very much like the concept of the Potemkin Protest that PJM's own mysterious Zombie described last year, as we'll explore right after the page break, followed by a recent, real-world example of a "friendly lawsuit" in action.