Radical Parody Threatens Environmental Movement

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An October 2, 2005 editorial by Thomas Bray notes the excesses of the environmental movement -- and notes the effort by ACSH president Dr. Elizabeth Whelan to draw attention to Harvard School of Public Health's unwise decision to give an award to Erin Brockovich:

Or consider the latest hilarity from the Harvard School of Public Health, which in two weeks will hold its annual "Leadership Council" for major supporters. It will use the occasion to bestow its Julius Richmond Award (named for Jimmy Carter's surgeon general) on none other than Erin Brockovich-Ellis for "her efforts on behalf of all of us" in extracting a $333 million settlement from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for allegedly poisoning the water supply of Hinkley, Calif.

Erin Brockovich became a household word after the movie of that name -- in which she was played by Julia Roberts in an Oscar-winning performance -- appeared a few years later. As it turns out, there was little if any evidence that PG&E's supposedly dastardly act was anything more than a minor screw-up (as PG&E admitted).

In a letter of protest to the dean of the Harvard public health school, Elizabeth Whelan...noted that the California Department of Health Services concluded that "We found no basis in either the epidemiological or animal data" for assertions that the pollution was a cancer-causing agent.