UPDATE: Talk about journalistic malpractice. Greenwire (subs. req’d, reprinted below) now reports that “Comments accusing U.S. EPA of ignoring the economic consequences of regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act that were included in a White House document publicized today were written by a Small Business Administration office headed by someone appointed by President George W. Bush.”
Seriously, what is the difference between blogging and journalism? My answer is at the end. Your comments are welcome, as always.
The climate misreporting of the day goes to ABC News’ Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper and the AP’s Dina Cappiello. Tapper’s blog today runs the sensational but untrue headline:
Tapper then asserts, very incorrectly
The White House has not yet decided to go forward with the [endangerment] finding. There is a 60-day comment period following the finding. As part of this process, the Obama administration requested comment from various departments and agencies on the endangerment finding, which is where the memo came from.
In fact, the White House decided to go forward with the endangerment finding weeks ago. The 60-day comment period is for public comments, and the memo ain’t part of that process. But otherwise, the paragraph is spot on!
[If you want to know why I moderate this blog, read Tapper's comments.]
The AP story ran a similarly inaccurate headline:
Rather than wasting your time with any further discussion of their misreporting, let’s just see what OMB director Peter Orszag has to say. The OMB is the source of this “White House memo” and apparently journalists don’t interview sources anymore. Orszag explains on his blog:
Media reports today are suggesting that OMB has found fault with EPA’s proposed finding that emissions of greenhouse gases from motor vehicles contribute to air pollution that endangers public health and welfare. Any reports suggesting that OMB was opposed to the finding are unfounded.
The quotations circulating in the press are from a document in which OMB simply collated and collected disparate comments from various agencies during the inter-agency review process of the proposed finding. These collected comments were not necessarily internally consistent, since they came from multiple sources, and they do not necessarily represent the views of either OMB or the Administration. In other words, we simply receive comments from various agencies and pass them along to EPA for consideration, regardless of the substantive merit of those comments. In general, passing along these types of comments to an agency proposing a finding often helps to improve the quality of the notice.
Perhaps more importantly, OMB concluded review of the preliminary finding several weeks ago, which then allowed EPA to move forward with the proposed finding. As I wrote on this blog on April 17, the “proposed finding is carefully rooted in both law and science.” I also noted: “By itself, the EPA’s proposed finding imposes no regulation. (Indeed, by itself, it requires nothing at all.) If and when the endangerment finding is made final, the EPA will turn to the question whether and how to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new automobiles.”
The bottom line is that OMB would have not concluded review, which allows the finding to move forward, if we had concerns about whether EPA’s finding was consistent with either the law or the underlying science. The press reports to the contrary are simply false.
I was going to say that the difference between journalism and blogging is checking your sources. But that’s not quite right. Bloggers check sources all the time.
No, I think the difference is that bloggers don’t pretend to be journalists….
For more on this non-story, see Grist.
The full, amazing Greenwire breaking story:
Comments accusing U.S. EPA of ignoring the economic consequences of regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act that were included in a White House document publicized today were written by a Small Business Administration office headed by someone appointed by President George W. Bush, an Obama administration official said.
Those comments by SBA’s Office of Advocacy were included in a memo sent to EPA by the White House Office of Management and Budget last month in response to the agency’s proposed finding that greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare.
The memo was the focus of widespread media coverage today as Republican lawmakers and industry groups held up the OMB document as a reason to be leery of possible EPA curbs on greenhouse gas emissions.
The document — which OMB described as a compilation of agency comments and recommendations — included criticism that EPA had failed to account for costly regulation of small sources like hospitals and schools — a theme for congressional Republicans opposed to federal climate regulations.
“Making the decision to regulate CO2 under the [Clean Air Act] for the first time is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the U.S. economy, including small businesses and small communities,” the document said. That statement was submitted by the business advocacy office, the administration official said.
The mission of SBA’s Office of Advocacy is to “reduce the burdens that federal policies impose on small firms and maximize the benefits small businesses receive from the government,” according to the office’s Web site.
The office’s acting chief counsel, Shawne McGibbon, was appointed last November under the Bush administration. McGibbon worked for former Rep. Al Wynn (D-Md.) before joining SBA, an agency spokesman said.