Two years ago we noted that the Environmental Working Group, a frequent source of anti-business stories in the press, seemed to be rather deeply involved with the litigation biz (see May 23, 2001). The group more recently has come in for sharp criticism from the conservative Capital Research Center (Bonner R. Cohen, “The Environmental Working Group: Peddlers of Fear”, Jan.) (PDF)(mentions this site) and from the American Tort Reform Association (also mentions this site).
Looking over EWG’s website recently, we noticed a page dated Nov. 17 of last year on the MTBE liability controversy (on which, see Nov. 25). It seems EWG took out big ads in Roll Call and The Hill calling for oil companies to be held liable for underwater spread of the gasoline additive (sample ad in PDF format, linked from Nov. 17 page). On EWG’s own webpage (see bottom of left column) appears the following notice: “Advertisements paid for by Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA)”. Curiously, that reader advisory didn’t appear in the sample ad itself. Wasn’t there room to fit it in?
And today EWG released a report that echoes the major assertions of the plaintiff’s trial bar on the topic of asbestos, and adds some controversial claims of its own, including a claim that deaths from asbestos-related disease are on the rise. The report doesn’t have much to say about perjury mills or about the domination of the asbestos docket by unimpaired claimants. It turns out (as you learn if you reach this page) that the new report “would not have been possible without the financial, intellectual and material support of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA)”, and in particular a “grant in the amount of $176,000 from ATLA to the EWG Action Fund.” You might almost think there’s a pattern here.