Another Lesson in Autocracy and Fake News on the Environment

Washington Post article that the Providence Journal gives the headline, “New Trump power plant plan could release hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 into air,” merits a closer look.  Even the first paragraph ought to have led editors to temper that headline:

President Donald Trump plans next week to unveil a proposal that would empower states to establish emission standards for coal-fired power plants rather than speeding their retirement – a major overhaul of the Obama administration’s signature climate policy and one that could significantly increase the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.Trump plans to announce the measure as soon as Tuesday during a visit to West Virginia, according to two administration officials who spoke on the

Read on in the article, though, and even the hook that this power plan “could significantly increase the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere” appears simply to be false.  Note:

The Environmental Protection Agency’s own impact analysis, which runs nearly 300 pages, projects that the proposal would make only slight cuts to overall emissions of pollutants – including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides – over the next decade.

So, as a matter of fact, the journalists transform a projection that the plan would result in “cuts” into a “significant increase.”  How do they manage this feat of reversal?  By contrasting the Trump plan with a prior Obama plan that cut much more.

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Readers might concede that the headline goes a bit far but still ask whether it isn’t, on the whole, a reasonable summary.  After all, the Trump proposal would possibly increase the release of carbon dioxide in contrast to existing law, right?  Umm… no.  Read down a number of paragraphs… past some spin by a former Obama administration official… and you’ll find this:

Since the outset of the administration, officials have said they intended to replace the Clean Power Plan because EPA exceeded its legal authority in crafting the policy. The rule, which has been stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court, established a program under which states could achieve emissions reductions by having utilities promote energy efficiency or build renewable power projects such as solar or wind.

States and utility companies are suing the government over the constitutionality of the rule, and the Supreme Court found enough merit in their claims to stop its implementation until the legal issue is resolved.  In other words, the Obama rule is not currently in operation and could very well never be allowed by the courts.

In other words, the Washington Post’s article and, especially, the Providence Journal’s headline appear to be part of the mainstream media’s effort to preserve policies that the Obama administration implemented autocratically, without following the process by which our representative democracy allows us to govern ourselves, even by dishonest means.

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