Accuracy in Media

In March the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, announced that it would begin issuing new rules and regulations for livestock feeding operations. It said it was acting as a consequence of what became known as “Pfiesteria hysteria,” an uproar over an outbreak of toxic micro-organisms that killed thousands of fish and made about 30 people sick. Does the EPA action mean that the federal government has now determined the source of the problem, and what should be done about it? Hardly. A report from an official Maryland state government body declared that scientists do not know what caused it. Adding to that, Dr. Richard Halpern of the Center for Global Food Issues says flatly that the scientific evidence for the cause does not yet exist.

The EPA gets away with such action because it is perceived by many in the media as an agency that does no wrong. Because it is supposed to be keeping our air and water clean, journalists excuse the EPA when it goes beyond its mandate and issues new regulations not based on solid science. Reporters don’t stop to consider the consequences of these misguided regulations.

Here’s another example of what the EPA is doing, largely behind the backs of the American people. Remember the global warming treaty that came out of a U.N. conference last year? The treaty was so controversial in terms of its projected impact on our economy that the Clinton-Gore Administration decided not to submit it for Senate ratification. The Administration knew that it could not get two-thirds of the Senate to ratify it.

So the EPA is trying to implement the treaty anyway. Citizens for a Sound Economy reports that the EPA is now working with its state and local counterparts and environmental activists to develop plans to reduce so-called greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA has held two conferences on the issue, attempting to enlist them in an effort to develop policies mandated by the treaty. The EPA is assisting them in developing what are called “climate change action plans.” The EPA even says that state and local governments should “encourage and support the federal government to take action at the national level.” That’s another way of saying that the Senate ought to be pressured to ratify the treaty.

So the EPA wants to have it both ways: it wants the states to pressure the Senate to ratify the treaty, but it wants the states to implement the treaty anyway. The problem in either case is that it bypasses the Constitution of the United States. Citizens for a Sound Economy points out, “If enough states choose to implement such schemes, Kyoto will become the de facto law of the land, regardless of how (or whether) the Senate votes on ratification.”

Congress seems to suspect that something is wrong with this picture. This is why, in both Houses of Congress, legislation has been introduced to prohibit the use of federal funds to implement the treaty until the Senate has given its advice and consent. The media’s free ride for the EPA is one reason why such a bill is perceived to be necessary.




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