Accuracy in Media

In a news analysis article, Reuters looked at Republican efforts to stymie the activism of the Environmental Protection Agency, which has increased its regulatory efforts under President Obama. Reuters, in keeping with the post-Giffords “new civility,” characterizes the Republican efforts as an “assault of similar vigor” to that which accompanied the debt ceiling increase.+

Reuters’ second paragraph asserts that Republican opposition is “backed by wealthy conservative lobbyists.” The report asserts that the EPA is the “last bastion of hope for [President Obama’s] environmental policy” after his “push for a climate bill in Congress collapsed last year.”

It collapsed in a Democrat-controlled Congress for good political reason, too. Popular opposition to cap-and-trade in the U.S. led to the loss of two long-held Democratic House seats in 2010 as well: Morgan Griffith (R-VA) defeated the former chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, Rick Boucher, who co-authored the cap-and-trade proposal in a Virginia coal-country seat that Boucher had held since 1983. In Minnesota’s Iron Belt, retired Northwest Airlines pilot Chip Cravaack defeated Jim Oberstar, the chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who had served since 1975 and supported President Obama’s cap-and-trade plan as well as an extension of the Clean Water Act opposed by his constituents. Elsewhere, in Australia, a similar effort by the Australian Labor Party to institute a tax on carbon dioxide has seen that party fall to devastating lows in opinion polls.

Reuters notes that Richard Nixon’s administration established the EPA, calling it “ironic” that Republicans now oppose its expanded authority. Of course, Nixon was no Goldwater-Reagan conservative. He once said that “I am now a Keynesian in economics” and instituted wage and price controls.

Reuters asserts that “some suspect” that EPA efforts to “cut greenhouse gas emissions from the country’s major utilities” have been “delayed…by Republican pressure.” It is unclear whether Reuters would assert whether or not “Democratic pressure” initiated such efforts in the first place.

Reuters quotes a lobbyist from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity who asserts that proposed EPA greenhouse gas caps “would be the most expensive regulation to ever affect our coal-based electricity industry.”

Reuters does not investigate the costs to jobs and the economy of any proposed regulations, restricting their inquiries to one industry’s assessment. The Heritage Foundation did not: Its study found that by 2029 manufacturing employment would fall by three million more jobs than under current-law projections if the Congressional cap-and-trade plan had been enacted. Heritage also assessed the total effective tax burden from cap-and-trade as up to $300 billion per year. Reuters does not address any arguments about follow-on effects from any proposed EPA policies in the broader economy at any point in its article. As the Republican “assault” has as its sole purpose preventing this follow-on economic damage (especially to employment), Reuters is delinquent in its journalistic “analysis” in not addressing those effects.

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