Harmonizing with the Republican agenda, Fox News and Fox Business have launched a full-scale attack on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), labeling the agency “job terrorists” who are “strangling America.” What follows is a list of Fox's top 10 lies about the EPA this year.
Fox's Attacks On EPA Coincide With Republican Agenda
Fox's Regulation Nation Series Aired After GOP Launched “Regulation Nation” Website. In mid-September, Fox News and Fox Business began a series of segments critical of government regulations under the banner Regulation Nation. The series title echoes the House Republican Conference, which has had its own “Regulation Nation” website since at least June. [GOP.gov, accessed 10/4/11]
Fox's Regulation Nation Coincided With Start Of Republican Anti-Regulatory Push. In an August 29 memo, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) identified ten “job-destroying regulations” that will be the targets of the Republican legislative agenda in the coming months. Seven of the ten are EPA rules. The memo indicated that September 12 would be the start date for Republicans' anti-regulatory push - the same day Fox launched its Regulation Nation series. [Majorityleader.gov, 8/29/11] [Media Matters, 9/12/11]
Push For Fox Regulation Series Reportedly Came From The Top. In a story for Newsweek, Howard Kurtz quoted Fox News president Roger Ailes -- who worked as a Republican consultant for decades before transitioning to television -- stating that he was behind the network's Regulation Nation series:
Ailes raises a Fox initiative that he cooked up: “Are our producers on board on this 'Regulation Nation' stuff? Are they ginned up and ready to go?” Ailes, who claims to be “hands off” in developing the series, later boasts that “no other network will cover that subject ... I think regulations are totally out of control,” he adds, with bureaucrats hiring Ph.D.s to “sit in the basement and draw up regulations to try to ruin your life.” It is a message his troops cannot miss. [Newsweek, 9/25/11]
GOP Launched Anti-EPA Offensive After 2010 Midterm Elections. National Journal reported on Republicans' decision to target EPA regulations after the midterm elections:
Once they determined to fight the new rules, coal companies banded together with the Republican Party to strategize, and the 2010 midterm elections offered the perfect battleground. The companies invested heavily in campaigns to elect tea party candidates crusading against the role of Big Government. Industry groups (like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), tea party groups with deep ties to polluters (like Americans for Prosperity), and so-called super PACs (like Karl Rove's American Crossroads) spent record amounts to help elect the new House Republican majority.
The House freshmen, the influential super PACs, and now the 2012 presidential candidates have all put EPA's “job killing” regulations in their sights as part of an all-out political and legislative offensive against the agency.
The House leaders listened. House Government Oversight Chairman Darryl Issa sent letters to executives asking them to list the government regulations that would most harm job growth. EPA regulations topped most lists. Planning their agenda, Speaker John Boehner and Cantor decided that bills defunding and reversing EPA's regulatory authority would hit the floor early and often. Even if few of them had a chance to become law, thanks to a Democratic-controlled Senate, they would be political winners. [National Journal, 9/22/11]
House Republicans' Budget Proposal Took Direct Aim At EPA's Budget. From a February 14 ClimateWire article on House Republicans' continuing resolution:
First on the House GOP's chopping block: U.S. EPA. The proposed CR takes direct aim at the agency and its role as the cornerstone of the Obama administration's twinned efforts to regulate CO2 emissions and boost climate change-related research.
The new bill would slash the agency's budget by $3 billion, 29 percent below the fiscal 2010 level of $10.3 billion. It would also block funds for all current and pending EPA greenhouse gas regulations on stationary sources for the remainder of the fiscal year. [ClimateWire, 2/14/11, via NYTimes.com]
Fox's Top 10 Lies About The EPA This Year
- Fox's John Stossel To the EPA: “Stop Already.” On Your World With Neil Cavuto, Fox's John Stossel said, “Thank goodness for the EPA. The air and water are cleaner than they used to be ... But they passed those rules. They made the air and water cleaner.” Stossel went on to say “It's ridiculous, its diminishing returns. They've done a wonderful job. Stop already. Stick a fork in it, it's done. You could close the EPA's rulemaking apparatus -- this stuff -- for ten years, we wouldn't notice.” [Fox News, Your World With Neil Cavuto, 9/2/11]
- Fox Guest Steve Milloy: “We Do Not Need More Environmental Regulations.” Appearing on Fox Business to discuss EPA regulations, Steve Milloy said, “we have made tremendous environmental progress since 1970, but guess what? It's no longer 1970, it's 2011. Our environment is clean and safe. We do not need more environmental regulations.” Milloy called clean air protections “a luxury” that America can “no longer” afford. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 9/3/11]
REALITY: EPA Continually Revises Rules To Account For Scientific Advances. The EPA, which implements numerous environmental laws passed by Congress, is responsible for continually evaluating and revising pollution standards based on new scientific data. For example, the Clean Water Act requires “that EPA periodically revise criteria for water quality to reflect accurately the latest scientific knowledge on the kind and extent of all identifiable effects on health and welfare that may be expected from the presence of pollutants in any body of water.” [Environmental Protection Agency, October 2000]
U.S. Continues To Have Serious Air Pollution Problems. The American Lung Association's State of the Air 2011 report found that “roughly half the people (50.3%) in the United States live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution.” The report further states that recent research has shown that the risks of ozone and particle pollution “are greater than we once thought.” [American Lung Association, April 2011]
Former EPA Administrators Note “Rapid Changes In Scientific Knowledge.” In response to congressional attacks on the EPA, former EPA administrators William D. Ruckelshaus and Christine Todd Whitman wrote in the Washington Post:
As former administrators of the EPA, both under Republican presidents, we have observed firsthand rapid changes in scientific knowledge concerning the dangers posed by particular pollutants, including lead additives in gasoline, benzene and the impact of contaminants on our drinking-water supply. In each of these cases, the authority of our major environmental statutes was essential to protect public health and the most vulnerable members of our society, even in the face of remaining scientific debate. [Washington Post, 3/24/11]
Whitman: “We Are Far From Free Of The Environmental Challenges Facing Our Country.” In a Hill op-ed, Christine Todd Whitman, who served as EPA administrator under George W. Bush, stated:
Despite the achievements that have been made since EPA was established, we are far from free of the environmental challenges facing our country and we are learning about new ones every day. Asthma is currently at epidemic levels in this country -- it is the single largest cause of missed school days. We know asthma is, at the very least, exacerbated by particulate matter in the air, and it is incumbent upon us as a nation to address this problem, quite literally, for the health of our children. [The Hill, 5/13/11]
EPA Has Still Not Begun Limiting Power Plant Emissions Of Mercury, As Required By The Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act was amended in 1990 to require EPA to regulate several toxic air pollutants like mercury, but the agency has yet to limit such emissions from power plants. As Greenwire reported:
Toxic pollution limits have been set for many industries, but a generation after the last major change to the nation's air pollution laws, EPA still doesn't have standards for coal-fired power plants and other facilities that release most of the nation's mercury.
Under legal deadlines from court battles with states and environmentalists, EPA is required to issue standards during President Obama's first term for several sectors that produce 80 percent or so of U.S. mercury emissions. [Greenwire, 12/8/10]
69% Of Americans Support Stricter Air Standards. A survey by the American Lung Association found strong public support for stricter EPA standards on air pollution: “69 percent think the EPA should update Clean Air Act standards with stricter limits on air pollution.” The survey also found that “68 percent of voters oppose Congressional action that impedes the EPA from updating clean air standards generally and 64 percent oppose Congressional efforts to stop the EPA from updating standards on carbon dioxide.” [American Lung Association, 2/16/11]
- Fox Contributor Borelli: EPA Is “A Job Killing Machine.” On Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano, Fox News contributor Deneen Borrelli asked “Is anyone keeping an eye on the Environmental Protection Agency? The EPA is a job-killing machine with the onslaught of regulations that they're hammering down on the fossil fuel industry. The utilities are going out of business, you have coal companies going out of business, it's insane.” [Fox Business, Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano, 8/10/11]
- Fox's Sullivan: Obama Administration Is Pushing “Job-Killing EPA Rules.” On Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano, Fox Business anchor Tom Sullivan said, “Republicans are fighting back against the administration's proposed job-killing EPA rules. Next week the House is expected to vote on a bill that would force the EPA to consider the impact on jobs before they implement new rules. And the environmental radicals are out in full force pushing back.” [Fox Business, Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano, 7/22/11, via Nexis]
- Fox & Friends: “EPA Will Be Responsible For Americans Losing 1.4 Million Jobs.” Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy claimed “Over the next seven years, if all those EPA rules go into effect, the EPA will be responsible for Americans losing 1.4 million jobs.” Doocy did not disclose that the jobs estimate he cites is from a study funded by the coal industry. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/27/11]
REALITY: Experts Say The Effect Of Regulations On Jobs Overall Is Minimal. ProPublica reported:
But is the claim that regulation kills jobs true?
We asked experts, and most told us that while there is relatively little scholarship on the issue, the evidence so far is that the overall effect on jobs is minimal. Regulations do destroy some jobs, but they also create others. Mostly, they just shift jobs within the economy.
“The effects on jobs are negligible. They're not job-creating or job-destroying on average,” said Richard Morgenstern, who served in the EPA from the Reagan to Clinton years and is now at Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan think tank. [ProPublica, 9/21/11]
EPI: “The Jobs-Impact Of The Air Toxics Rule Will Be Modest, But It Will Be Positive.” In a June 14 study, the Economic Policy Institute concluded that the job impact of the utility air toxics rule “will be modest, but it will be positive.” The study specifically found that the rule “would have a modest positive net impact on overall employment, likely leading to the creation of 28,000 to 158,000 jobs between now and 2015.” [Economic Policy Institute, 6/14/11]
Employers Don't Attribute Layoffs To Regulation. Sidney Shaprio of the Center for Progressive Reform wrote:
A little-noticed report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released on August 10 throws more cold water on the claim regulation kills off jobs. The BLS data examines the reasons companies give for laying off workers when the layoffs involve 50 or more workers who are laid off for more than 30 days (“extended mass layoffs”). The BLS data says that in the second quarter of 2011, 261,346 workers were laid off in such events. Of those, 690 of the separations were attributed by the employers to “Governmental regulations / intervention.” That's .26% of the separations.
For the years 2007-2009, regulation was the attributed cause of an average of 0.3% of the mass layoffs. The proportion of these events attributed to regulation seems to be remarkably stable across two administrations and vastly different economic conditions. Although the survey does not measure the reasons why companies lay off people outside of the mass layoff context, it is striking that 99.7% of mass layoffs are due to reasons other than government regulation. [CPR Blog, 8/22/11]
Survey Of Business Economists: Vast Majority Of Respondents Feel Current Regulatory Environment Is “Good” For Business. From the National Association for Business Economics' (NABE) August 2011 Economic Policy Survey:
Regulatory activity has gained a lot of attention, with many groups suggesting that American businesses are overregulated by the current administration. With that said, 80 percent of survey respondents felt that the current regulatory environment was “good” for American businesses and the overall economy. [National Association for Business Economics, August 2011]
Experts Say Costs Of Regulation Need To Be Measured Against The Benefits. From a New York Times report:
Many economists agree that regulation comes with undeniable costs that can affect workers. Factories may close because of the high cost of cleanup, or owners may relocate to countries with weaker regulations.
But many experts say that the effects should be assessed through a nuanced tally of costs and benefits that takes into account both economic and societal factors. Some argue that the costs can be offset as companies develop cheaper ways to clean up pollutants, and others say that regulation is often blamed for job losses that occur for different reasons, like a stagnant economy. As companies develop new technologies to cope with regulatory requirements, some new jobs are created.
What's more, some economists say, previous regulations, like the various amendments to the Clean Air Act, have resulted in far lower costs and job losses than industrial executives initially feared. [New York Times, 9/4/11]
CRS: Benefits Of EPA Rules Exceed Costs, Particularly As They Relate To Public Health. A Congressional Research Service report stated:
Frequently overlooked in analyses of EPA regulations are the benefits to public health and the environment that will occur, benefits that for the most part are difficult to monetize. EPA does estimate benefits of individual rules, while acknowledging that it is challenging to quantify benefits due to data limitations and uncertainties in approaches used to value benefits. The costs of the rules may be large, but, in most cases, the benefits are larger, especially estimated public health benefits. [Congressional Research Service, 8/8/11]
World Resources Institute: “Initial Cost Estimates Are Consistently Found To Be Exaggerated.” From a World Resources Institute post by Ruth Greenspan Bell:
In fact, there is extensive literature showing that the costs of environmental regulations are more than offset by a broad range of economic, public health and jobs-related benefits. Additionally, initial cost estimates are consistently found to be exaggerated. Economists and researchers who have compared actual costs with initial projections report that regulations generally end up costing far less than the dire predictions from industry and even below cost projections by the Environmental Protection Agency.
A case in point: opposing the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments, a study sponsored by the U.S. Business Roundtable expressed “little doubt that a minimum of 200,000 (plus) jobs will be quickly lost, with plants closing in dozens of states. This number could easily exceed one million jobs - and even two millions jobs - at the more extreme assumptions about residual risk.” In fact, in the eight year period following the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments, less than 7,000 total jobs were lost across the entire United States as a direct consequence of the Clean Air Act, and, as noted above, many more jobs were created. [World Resources Institute, 11/17/10]
- Fox Contributor Borelli: Obama “Has A War On Fossil Fuel.” On Hannity, Fox News contributor Deneen Borelli criticized President Obama's “regressive” energy policy, saying “He has a war on fossil fuel. But the EPA is pushing his agenda for higher electricity prices.” [Fox News, Hannity, 9/19/11 via Nexis]
- Fox's Bolling And Crowley Attack The Obama Administration's “War On Coal.” On Fox Business' Follow The Money, host Eric Bolling claimed that the EPA is “doing everything in their power to shutdown coal.” Fox News contributor Monica Crowley added, “Well, from day one, this administration has had a war on all natural resources we use for energy, war on oil, war on natural gas, war on coal. This is all part of a social engineering strategy in the energy sector.” [Fox Business, Follow The Money, 7/27/11]
- Fox Nation: “Obama's War On Coal.” Fox Nation promoted a New York Post op-ed with the headline “Obama's War On Coal.” [Fox Nation, 8/10/11]
REALITY: “Most Of The Major Rules” On Clean Air “Began Development Under The Bush Administration.” From a Congressional Research Service report on EPA rulemaking under the Obama administration:
Not all of these rules are Obama Administration initiatives. Many began development under the Bush Administration, including several that were promulgated under that Administration and subsequently were vacated or remanded to EPA by the courts. Within the Clean Air Act group, for example, most of the major rules, including the agency's boiler rules and two of the major rules affecting electric power plants (the Clean Air Transport Rule and the MACT rule) fit that description. Other EPA actions, such as the reconsideration of the ozone air quality standard, have actually delayed for several years implementation of Bush Administration rules that would have strengthened existing standards. [Congressional Research Service, 3/21/11]
Bush Sr.'s EPA Chief: Previous Administrations Handed Regulatory “Grenades” To Obama. Greenwire reported in December 2010 that George H.W. Bush's EPA Administrator acknowledged that “the Obama administration has far less leeway than the agency's critics in Congress suggest”:
At a time of unprecedented rancor over the costs and benefits of U.S. EPA rules, the Obama administration has far less leeway than the agency's critics in Congress suggest, according to the man who led the agency under George H.W. Bush.
Many of the most costly new regulations were left behind by the George W. Bush administration, William Reilly told an audience at the National Press Club yesterday. Some of the rules were ordered by Congress but were never put in place, forcing EPA to settle with environmental groups. Others have court deadlines from when the last administration's policies were rejected in court.
“They're like little hand grenades that have been rolled out there by previous administrators, and now they're ticking,” Reilly said. “They're very difficult, and some of them quite expensive, rules.” [Greenwire, 12/17/10]
National Journal: Coal Industry Privately Acknowledges That Obama EPA “Inherited A Stack Of Obligations.” A National Journal article noted that “a stack of court-ordered environmental regulations, some dating back 20 years” met EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson when she took office. The article also said: “Privately, coal chiefs and Republicans say they understand that Jackson inherited a stack of obligations and had to act.” [National Journal, 9/22/11]
Power Company Execs: “For Over A Decade, Companies Have Recognized That The Industry Would Need To Install Controls.” Responding to a Wall Street Journal editorial, executives representing several major power companies stated:
Your editorial "The EPA Permitorium" (Nov. 22) mischaracterizes the EPA's air-quality regulations. These are required under the Clean Air Act, which a bipartisan Congress and a Republican president amended in 1990, and many are in response to court orders requiring the EPA to fix regulations that courts ruled invalid.
The electric sector has known that these rules were coming. Many companies, including ours, have already invested in modern air-pollution control technologies and cleaner and more efficient power plants. For over a decade, companies have recognized that the industry would need to install controls to comply with the act's air toxicity requirements, and the technology exists to cost effectively control such emissions, including mercury and acid gases. The EPA is now under a court deadline to finalize that rule before the end of 2011 because of the previous delays.
To suggest that plants are retiring because of the EPA's regulations fails to recognize that lower power prices and depressed demand are the primary retirement drivers. The units retiring are generally small, old and inefficient. These retirements are long overdue.
Contrary to the claims that the EPA's agenda will have negative economic consequences, our companies' experience complying with air quality regulations demonstrates that regulations can yield important economic benefits, including job creation, while maintaining reliability.
The time to make greater use of existing modern units and to further modernize our nation's generating fleet is now. Our companies are committed to ensuring the EPA develops and implements the regulations consistent with the act's requirements. [Wall Street Journal, 12/8/10]
CRS: Bush EPA “Did Not Follow The Advice Of The Agency's Independent Science Advisors” On Ozone Rule. From a January 4 Congressional Research Service report:
In making his decisions regarding the 2008 ozone and 2006 particulate standards, then-EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson did not follow the advice of the agency's independent science advisors, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). The Administrator is not required by statute to follow CASAC's recommendations; the act requires only that he set forth in the Federal Register notice in which he (or she) proposes a NAAQS [National Ambient Air Quality Standard] any pertinent findings, recommendations, and comments made by CASAC and, if the proposal differs in an important respect from any of the recommendations, provide an explanation of the reasons for such differences. But the failure to follow CASAC recommendations almost inevitably raises the question of whether the Administrator's decision will be judged arbitrary and capricious in a judicial review.
In the recent revisions of both the ozone and PM standards, CASAC made detailed objections to the Administrator's final decisions. The committee's description of the process as having failed to meet statutory and procedural requirements could play an important role during judicial review. [Congressional Research Service, 1/4/11]
NY Times: Bush Admin Proposed A Mercury Rule That Its Own Lawyers Acknowledged Would “Almost Certainly Be Reversed.” The New York Times reported that “in 2005, top agency officials instituted a controversial cap-and-trade program for mercury, despite a warning from agency lawyers that the move would throw the issue back into the courts and almost certainly be reversed”:
The Bush administration E.P.A. faced its own deadlines to devise and put into effect controls for power plant pollution. But rather than issue emissions standards in line with federal law, in 2005, top agency officials instituted a controversial cap-and-trade program for mercury, despite a warning from agency lawyers that the move would throw the issue back into the courts and almost certainly be reversed.
As predicted, a coalition of states and environmentalists sued the agency, arguing that the cap-and-trade program would not limit other toxic emissions like arsenic and would allow the dirtiest power plants to pay for the right to pollute, putting nearby communities at risk. In 2008 a federal judge ruled against the E.P.A., giving the agency three years to develop standards for mercury and other pollutants. [The New York Times, 3/16/11]
Bush's Clean Air Interstate Rule Was Also Vacated And Remanded By Court. This year the EPA finalized a Cross-State Air Pollution rule limiting sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions that travel across state lines. A March 21 Congressional Research Service report explains that the Bush administration's attempt at this rule was “vacated and remanded to the agency by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.” [Congressional Research Service, 3/21/11]
CRS: Coal Retirements “Caused By Cheap, Abundant Natural Gas As Much As By EPA Regulations.” From an August 8 Congressional Research Service report:
The primary impacts of many of the rules will largely be on coal-fired plants more than 40 years old that have not, until now, installed state-of-the-art pollution controls. Many of these plants are inefficient and are being replaced by more efficient combined cycle natural gas plants, a development likely to be encouraged in the price of competing fuel--natural gas--continues to be low, almost regardless of EPA rules.
In short, the “train wreck” facing the coal-fired electric generating industry, to the extent that it exists, is being caused by cheap, abundant natural gas as much as by EPA regulations. As John Rowe, Chairman and CEO of Exelon Corporation, recently stated: “These regulations will not kill coal... In fact, modeling done on the impacts of these rules shows that up to 50% of retirements are due to the current economics of the plant due to natural gas and coal prices.” [Congressional Research Service, 8/8/11]
- Fox's Dr. Ablow: Tying Coal Plants To Asthma Is “Pseudo-Science.” On Fox Business' Follow The Money, Keith Ablow suggested that Lisa Jackson was “using pseudo-science to justify political agendas” when she noted the link between air pollution and asthma. [Fox Business, Follow The Money, 6/15/11]
- Fox News' Hannity Dismisses Connection Between Asthma And Coal Pollution. Responding to President Obama's assertion that coal plant emissions are “creating asthma for kids nearby,” Sean Hannity dismissed the connection between asthma and coal pollution, pointing out that “the exact cause of asthma is not known.” [Fox News, Hannity, 4/20/11]
REALITY: Pollutants Released By Coal-Fired Power Plants “Worsen Asthma.” A report by the American Lung Association stated that “smaller particles, those produced by fossil fuel combustion such as coal-fired power plants, (otherwise known as fine particles or PM2.5) worsen asthma and bronchitis, cause heart attacks and strokes, and increase the risk of premature death.” The report added that other air pollutants, including sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides make “breathing difficult” and “cause asthma attacks.” [LungUSA.org, March 2011]
American Academy Of Pediatrics: Children With Respiratory Diseases Are Vulnerable To “Adverse Effects Of Air Pollution.” From the June 15 testimony of Dr. Jerome Paulson on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics:
Because the lung is in direct contact with the air, children with underlying or chronic respiratory diseases are even more susceptible to the adverse effects of air pollution. In individuals with cystic fibrosis, elevated levels of particulate matter and ozone are associated with an increased risk of exacerbations and decline in lung function. For children with asthma, the most common chronic disease in childhood, ozone levels--even those below current EPA standards--are associated with increased respiratory symptoms and the need for rescue medication. School absences, emergency room visits, and hospital admissions are all directly associated with ambient air pollution. In a prospective cohort of children living in southern California, children with asthma living in communities with increased levels of air pollution (especially particulates, nitrogen dioxide, and acid vapor) were more likely to have bronchitis symptoms. The same mix of air pollutants was also associated with deficits in lung growth (as measured by lung function tests). [Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, 6/15/11]
Harvard Study: Emissions From 9 Coal Plants Cause Extra Risk Of “14,000 Asthma Attacks” Per Year. A 2001 study by environmental scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health evaluated the impact of air pollution from nine coal-burning power plants in Illinois and found that “current emissions contribute an annual extra risk of 300 premature deaths, 14,000 asthma attacks, and over 400,000 daily incidents of upper respiratory symptoms among the 33 million people living within 250 miles of the geographic center of the plants.” The study also found that “applying existing emission control technology to the older plants could reduce the annual mortality risk by approximately 200 premature deaths per year, along with 2,000 fewer emergency room visits, 10,000 fewer asthma attacks and 300,000 fewer daily incidents of upper respiratory problems. [Harvard School of Public Health, 1/3/01]
EPA: Clean Air Rule Will Prevent “120,000 Cases Of Childhood Asthma Symptoms.” During her June 15 testimony before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson stated that proposed limits on mercury emissions and toxic air pollution from power plants will prevent an estimated “120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms,” among other health benefits. [Environmental Protection Agency, 6/15/11]
- Fox News' Megyn Kelly: “A Fifth Of America's Electricity Generating Capacity Is About To Be Taken Offline.” Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly reported the claim that “a fifth of America's electricity generating capacity is about to be taken offline” due to Environmental Protection Agency limits on pollution from coal plants. [Fox News, America Live, 8/24/11]
- Fox Nation Warns Of “Looming Blackouts.” Under the headline “EPA's Looming Blackouts”, Fox Nation reposted a portion of an Investor's Business Daily article which claimed that the EPA's the Cross-State Pollution Rule “will likely result in the loss of a fifth of the nation's electricity-generating capacity.” [Fox Nation, 8/24/11]
REALITY: Fox Is Vastly Overstating Even Industry's Worst Case Estimates. An analysis by the industry group Edison Electric Institute predicts that new EPA regulations “would cause the unplanned retirement of 17 to 59 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired electric capacity (5.4% to 18.8% of the current coal-fired total of about 315 GW) by 2015.” EEI's worst case estimate represents only 5% of U.S. generating capacity. Furthermore, EEI's analysis has been called into question by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, which has pointed out that EEI's predictions “reflect assumptions about stringency and timing (especially for implementation) that differ significantly from what EPA actually may propose or has promulgated.” [Media Matters, 8/25/11]
FERC: With Proper Planning, Utilities Can Meet Rules Without Disrupting Supply Of Electricity. From a Reuters report:
U.S. power plants can comply with new environmental rules without disrupting the supply of electricity if providers and local authorities have time to plan for the changes, energy regulators told congressional Republicans seeking to unwind the rules.
“I believe this nation can retire a significant amount of existing generation,” said Philip Moeller, a Republican member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
“The key questions are which plants are going to be retired, where are they, and what is a manageable time frame.” [Reuters, 9/14/11]
Independent Analysis: “Scenarios In Which Electric System Reliability Is Broadly Affected Are Unlikely To Occur.” A Bipartisan Policy Center report on the impact of EPA regulations on electric system reliability identified tools available to address localized reliability risk, and concluded that “scenarios in which electric system reliability is broadly affected are unlikely to occur.” [Bipartisan Policy Center, 6/13/11]
CRA Study: “Electric System Reliability Can Be Maintained” With Clean Air Transport Rule And Utility MACT Rule. From a 2010 report by Charles River Associates assessing EPA's Clean Air Transport Rule and the proposed regulation of toxic air pollutants from coal and oil fired power plants:
[W]e conclude that electric system reliability can be maintained while the industry complies with EPA's air regulations. The number of projected coal plant retirements nationwide is relatively small compared to historical US net additions of generation capacity, and the electric sector has demonstrated repeatedly the ability to expand the generation fleet at a rate well in excess of projected capacity needs. Although we predict that a handful of areas will have de minimis or modest shortfalls due to predicted retirements, adequate reserve margins can be maintained by better utilizing existing supply capacity, installing new generation, and increasing load management. Additionally, existing federal statutory, state regulatory, and regional transmission organization (RTO) market safeguards can be utilized to maintain a reliable electric system. [Charles River Associates, 12/16/10]
M.J. Bradley & Associates Report: “Without Threatening Electric Reliability, The Industry Is Well-Positioned” To Meet EPA Requirements. From a report conducted by M.J. Bradley & Associates for the Clean Energy Group:
In this paper, we highlight the impact of EPA's upcoming air regulations, with a focus on the issue of possible power plant retirements on electric reliability. We conclude that, without threatening electric reliability, the industry is well-positioned to respond to EPA's proposed road map to “help millions of Americans breathe easier, live healthier,” provided that EPA, the industry and other agencies take practical steps to plan for the implementation of these regulations and adopt appropriate regulatory approaches. [M.J. Bradley & Associates, August 2010]
FBR Capital Markets Analysis: Retirement Of 45 GW Would Have Little Effect On Reserve Power. From the August 8 CRS report:
In the early 2000s, in response to the NOx SIP Call, the industry installed 96 GW of SCR in a five-year period while successfully maintaining system reliability. This was a “much more capital and manpower intensive effort” than the Utility MACT will be, according to David Foerter, the group's Executive Director.
If necessary, as shown in Figure 6, the industry is capable of adding new generating capacity in a short time. From 2000-2003, electric companies added over 200 GW of new capacity, far more than any of the analyses suggest will be needed in the 2011-2017 timeframe.
A December 2010 analysis by FBR Capital Markets concluded that even the incremental retirement of 45 GW by 2014 (which appears to be more than EPA's rules will effect) would have little effect on electricity reserve margins: “Summer reserve margins are currently 26% across the U.S. and are likely to decline only to 24% by 2014 in a draconian scenario in which 45 GW of generation is retired.” FBR offers the caveat that electricity reserve margins are a regional, not a national matter; but its analysis of eight NERC regions found reserve margins of 16.8% to 37.8% under its “draconian” 2014 scenario.
Other studies suggest that proper planning can prevent a train wreck, even in worst-case scenarios. Much depends on whether individual utilities have already begun planning for the implementation of the rules, including lining up engineers to design modifications, and conducting preliminary discussions with permitting authorities and grid operators regarding the required steps. [Congressional Research Service, 8/8/11]
- Fox & Friends: EPA Is “Now Going To Hire 230,000 New Employees.” Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson stated that the EPA is “now going to hire 230,000 new employees to keep up with all the paperwork from all of these additional and new regulations.” Steve Doocy added, “the EPA wants to somehow go ahead and regulate greenhouse gases. So to do that, they're going to have to hire 230,000 more employees at a cost of $21 billion.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/27/11]
- Fox Business' Judge Napolitano: EPA Wants To “Hire A Quarter Of A Million New Federal Employees.” On his Fox Business show Andrew Napolitano asked, “Should we really hire a quarter of a million new federal employees to do what the EPA wants to do?” [Fox Business, Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano, 9/28/11]
- Fox News' Andrea Tantaros: “EPA Is Asking For $21 Billion ... For 203,000 New Employees.” On Fox & Friends, Fox News' Andrea Tantaros said, “Now I guess the EPA is asking for $21 billion - get this - for 203,000 new employees even though they admit, Steve, that these regulations are unlikely to pass and that even implementing them is 'absurd.' Really, it's just onerous at this point, and they're bowing down to a very, a just crazy environmental policy.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/29/11]
REALITY: EPA Said It Avoided A Scenario In Which 230,000 New Workers Would Be Necessary. Following the lead of the Daily Caller, Fox misrepresented a September 16 court filing which explains why the EPA issued the “tailoring rule” in May 2010. The rule narrowed the implementation of greenhouse gas regulations to avoid a scenario in which 230,000 employees would be needed to process permits at a cost of $21 billion. [Media Matters, 9/27/11]
- Fox's Willis: EPA Regulations Cost Small Businesses “A Whopping $4,100 Bucks Per Employee.” Citing “a Small Business Administration study conducted by Lafayette College Professor Mark Crain,” Gerri Willis of the Fox Business Network wrote that “big Fortune 500 companies pay just $883 to comply with EPA regulations, but small companies pay a whopping $4,100 per employee per year. By the way, this analysis doesn't even include the newest EPA rules that are giving employers such a big headache and will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.” [FoxBusiness.com, 9/15/11]
- Fox News' MacCallum: Regulations Cost Businesses "$161,000 A Year." Referring to the same study by Crain, America's Newsroom anchor Martha MacCallum said “there have been 75 new major regulations since 2009. The annual cost of compliance for companies is $38 billion, and the average cost to businesses will be $161,000 a year.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 9/12/11]
- Fox's Asman: “Small Firms Bear A Regulatory Cost Of $10,585 Per Employee. This Thing Is Enormously Expensive.” Fox Business host David Asman cited the Crain study and said that small businesses “bear a regulatory cost of $10,585 per employee. This thing is enormously expensive. Regulations, I would say in some ways, can be more expensive than taxes.” [Fox Business, America's Nightly Scoreboard, 9/13/11 via Nexis]
REALITY: Study Cited By Fox Has Been Widely Criticized. Regarding the study cited repeatedly by Fox, the Congressional Research Service noted that critics said the study relied on outdated data, did not take into account the economic benefits of regulations, used invalid measures, utilized what OMB called an “inherently flawed” approach, and cherry-picked the highest cost estimates of regulations. According to the CRS report, Mark and Nicole Crain themselves said that their report was “not meant to be a decision-making tool for lawmakers or federal regulatory agencies.” [Congressional Research Service, 4/6/11]
EPI: Crain Study Is Not “A Valid Measure Of The Costs Of Regulation.” An Economic Policy Institute review of the Crain study concluded that it's “results are driven by a combination of poor data, and a flawed empirical approach” and that the report's estimated cost of regulations “should not be used either as a valid measure of the costs of regulation or as a guide for policy.” [Economic Policy Institute, 7/19/11]
CPR: Study Used “Flimsy” And “Crude” Data. The Center for Progressive Reform criticized the study's lack of transparency and condemned Crain and Crain for using “crude” data:
The report's estimate of “economic regulatory” costs--financial regulations, for example--which account for 70 percent of the total regulatory costs, is not based on actual cost estimates. Instead, this estimate is based on the results of public opinion polling concerning the business climate of countries that has been collected in a World Bank report. The authors of the World Bank report warn that its results should not be used for exactly the type of extrapolations made by Crain and Crain, because their underlying data are too crude. Crain and Crain nevertheless enter the World Bank data into a formula, which they appear to have created out of whole cloth, that purports to describe a relationship between a country's regulatory stringency and its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). OMB has repeatedly warned against trying to reduce the complex relationship between these two concepts to such simplistic terms, yet this is precisely what Crain and Crain do. [Center for Progressive Reform, February 2011]
- Fox & Friends' Doocy: “The President Could Suspend These Crazy Rules ... With Just A Signature.” Echoing a Wall Street Journal editorial, Fox News' Steve Doocy claimed that “the President could suspend these crazy rules that are going to cost so many jobs and so much energy with just a signature on a piece of paper.” Fox News contributor Deneen Borelli agreed that President Obama could halt EPA rules “through an executive order.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/30/11]
REALITY: Presidential Exemption Applies Only To Hazardous Air Pollutant Rule. Section 112 of the Clean Air Act states that the presidential exemption clause applies only to regulations “under this section”, such as the EPA's proposed Utility MACT/Air Toxics rule to limit power plant emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants. Contrary to the claims made by Fox News, this provision does not authorize the President to grant exemptions from other pending EPA rules. [Clean Air Act, Sec. 112]
Conditions For Exemption Are Not Met. The Clean Air Act's exemption clause is an option only under the conditions that "the technology to implement such standard is not available and that it is in the national security interests of the United States to do so." [Clean Air Act, Sec. 112]
- CRS: Compliance With Proposed Rule Will Not Require “Complicated Or New Technology.” Discussing the impact of the proposed air toxics rule on coal plants, an August 8 Congressional Research Service report noted that “56% of existing coal-fired power plants already are in compliance.” And “this is not complicated or new technology. Other types of facilities (notably solid waste incinerators) have used this technology for the past 15 years to reduce their mercury and other HAP emissions by 95% or more.” [Congressional Research Service, 8/8/11]
- CRA Study: “Electric System Reliability Can Be Maintained” With Clean Air Transport Rule And Air Toxics Rule. From a 2010 report by Charles River Associates assessing EPA's Clean Air Transport Rule and the proposed regulation of toxic air pollutants from coal and oil fired power plants: "[W]e conclude that electric system reliability can be maintained while the industry complies with EPA's air regulations." [Charles River Associates, 12/16/10]
- Fox News' MacCallum: “It Is Not Customary For The EPA To Tell Car Companies How To Run Their Business.” During a segment criticizing the Obama administration's relationship with the business community, America's Newsroom anchor Martha MacCallum claimed that “it is not customary for the EPA to tell, you know, car companies how to run their business, which is what we're seeing here, right?” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 1/18/11]
REALITY: EPA Has Set Vehicle Emission Standards Since The 1970s. From the EPA website:
Starting in the early 1970's, EPA has set national standards that have considerably reduced emissions of CO [carbon monoxide] and other pollutants from motor vehicles, including tailpipe emissions, new vehicle technologies, and clean fuels programs. Since 1970, CO emissions from on-road vehicles (which includes cars, motorcycles, light- and heavy-duty trucks) have been reduced by over 40 percent. The greatest reductions have been in emissions from cars (nearly 60 percent)." [Environmental Protection Agency, 10/1/10]
Clean Air Act of 1970 Requires EPA To Regulate Vehicle Emissions That “Endanger Public Health Or Welfare.” From the Clean Air Act of 1970:
The Administrator [of the EPA] shall by regulation prescribe (and from time to time revise) in accordance with the provisions of this section, standards applicable to the emission of any air pollutant from any class or classes of new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines, which in his judgment cause, or contribute to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare. Such standards shall be applicable to such vehicles and engines for their useful life (as determined under subsection (d) of this section, relating to useful life of vehicles for purposes of certification), whether such vehicles and engines are designed as complete systems or incorporate devices to prevent or control such pollution. [42 U.S.C. § 7521, via Cornell University Law School, accessed 1/19/10]
Supreme Court: Clean Air Act Specifically Gives EPA “Authority To Regulate” Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Motor Vehicles. In Massachusetts vs. EPA, 12 states, four local governments, and 13 private organizations sued the EPA, claiming that, while the EPA was already regulating vehicle emissions of other gasses, it should also be regulating greenhouse gases -- including carbon dioxide -- that are emitted by motor vehicles. The Bush administration's EPA argued that it lacked authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate those gases. The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 opinion authored by then-Justice John Paul Stevens, stated on April 2, 2007, that “greenhouse gases fit well within the [Clean Air] Act's capacious definition of 'air pollutant,' ” and thus “EPA has statutory authority to regulate emission of such gases from new motor vehicles” [Massachusetts et al. V. Environmental Protection Agency et al., 4/2/07]
- Fox Business' Stuart Varney: It Is “True” That EPA Is Regulating Milk Spills. On Varney & Company, Steve Forbes claimed that the EPA is “now regulating milk spills as part of an oil spill program.” Varney responded, “that is true, as a matter of fact.” [Fox Business, Varney & Company, 3/4/11]
REALITY: EPA Had Already Proposed Excluding Milk From The Regulatory Program. According to the EPA website, “in January, 2009 EPA proposed a rule to exempt milk containers from the SPCC [Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure] rule. We proposed this exemption because we believe that milk production is already subject to sanitary standards that will help prevent spills. EPA already has delayed any compliance requirements for milk and milk product storage containers pending the agency's final action on the proposed exemption.” EPA further states that the agency “expects to finalize a rule exempting milk and milk product containers in spring 2011.” [Environmental Protection Agency, 2/16/11]
EPA Finalized The Exemption In April. On April 18, EPA finalized its rule to exempt milk from the spill prevention regulations:
On April 18, 2011, EPA published a final rule amending the SPCC regulations to exempt milk and milk product containers, associated piping and appurtenances. EPA believes that certain specific construction and sanitation standards and requirements address the prevention of oil discharges in quantities that may be harmful. The capacity of the exempt milk and milk product containers, piping and appurtenances should not be included in a facility's total oil storage capacity calculation to determine if the facility is subject to SPCC. The Agency is also removing the compliance date requirements for the exempt containers. [Environmental Protection Agency, accessed 9/29/11]
Jackson: Milk Claim Is Among The “Attempts To Misinform People.” The day before Fox's segment, Politico reported on Administrator Jackson's testimony to a House Committee in which she made it clear that the EPA was not planning to regulate milk spills:
The EPA chief said the misunderstanding on the milk rule is an example of the misinformation surrounding many of the agency's actions. “Many of the things that EPA is accused of are in my mind attempts to misinform people about what is actually happening,” she said. “What is happening on the ground is that we're not intending nor do I believe will ever regulate milk.” [Politico, 3/3/11]
When All Else Fails, Fox Resorts To Hyperbole And Fearmongering
- Fox's Bolling: EPA Officials Are “Job Terrorists.” Fox Business anchor Eric Bolling claimed that “the job terrorists at the EPA want to impose the most expensive ozone regulation in U.S. history.” [Fox Business, Follow the Money, 8/3/11]
- Fox's Dobbs: “Everybody Is Scared Of The EPA.” On his Fox Business show, Lou Dobbs said: “Everybody is scared of the EPA. I'm scared of the EPA. I don't even know why. But the fact of the matter is, you know that the EPA is nobody to mess with.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 9/15/11]
- Bolling: EPA Is “Strangling America.” On his Fox Business show, Eric Bolling blamed the EPA for high gas prices, saying “We're already too high, the price of gas, and that's because we don't drill, we don't refine, and we have an EPA that's strangling America.” [Fox Business, Follow the Money, 8/26/11]
- Fox News Contributor Krauthammer: Climate Regulations Amount To “Soviet Control.” On Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said that EPA greenhouse gas regulations are “command and control, which is a polite way of saying Soviet control, meaning it's all regulation, it's all sort of arbitrary on the part of the EPA ... and it is a kind of blackmail.” [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 12/9/09]
- Bolling: EPA “Has Launched A Deadly War Against Children And The Elderly.” On his Fox Business show, Eric Bolling stated that the EPA has “launched a deadly war against children and the elderly ... by attacking the coal industry, which could have devastating results in the extreme heat plaguing the entire nation.” [Fox Business, Follow the Money, 7/27/11]
- Dobbs: EPA “Could Be Part Of The Apparatchik Of The Soviet Union.” On Fox News' America Live, Lou Dobbs said “EPA is an ideological -- it's an apparatus. As it's being run now, it could be part of the Apparatchik of the Soviet Union, seriously, forty years ago. Because they through regulation are carrying out doctrine and policy.” [Fox News, America Live, 6/6/11]