“How much have you taken from Peabody Coal?”
That was the question Greenpeace researcher Jesse Coleman asked prominent climate change skeptic and Princeton physicist William Happer in a Senate hearing room Tuesday afternoon, just as Happer was preparing to testify before Sen. Ted Cruz’s Commerce subcommittee.
Hours earlier, Happer had been exposed as one of the two victims of a sting in which Greenpeace researchers posed as consultants for the fossil fuel industry. They got Happer and a Pennsylvania State University professor to agree to accept funding to produce pro-industry research while concealing the source of that funding.
Happer was none too pleased with Coleman’s question.
“You son of a bitch, I haven’t taken a dime!” replied Happer. “I haven’t taken a dime, you son of a bitch.”
Watch the exchange:
In fact, in email exchanges he thought he was having with a business advisory firm based in Beirut, Happer had described his convoluted remuneration agreement with Peabody Coal: His fee, in return for his testimony at a regulatory hearing in Minnesota, was to go not directly to him, but to a nonprofit that paid some of his expenses.
The other sting victim was Frank Clemente, a professor emeritus of sociology at Penn State known for his pro-coal views. He received an email in which Greenpeace U.K. investigators Lawrence Carter and Maeve McClenaghan posed as a fixer for an Indonesian energy company. They asked him to produce a “briefing paper” to “counter damaging studies on Indonesian coal deaths, which have appeared in run up to Paris [climate talks].”
Clemente replied that he would be “very interested” in the project, noting that he had “worked with the Coal Industry Advisory Board, International Energy Agency, World Coal Association, the American Coal Council and the NCC, as well as a number of private coal-based companies and groups.”
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