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In Fox News ‘Fair and Balanced’ Debate, Host Megyn Kelly Makes False Claim That EPA Will Shut Down 20% of Coal Plants

By Stephen Lacey on August 26, 2011 at 9:16 am

"In Fox News ‘Fair and Balanced’ Debate, Host Megyn Kelly Makes False Claim That EPA Will Shut Down 20% of Coal Plants"

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On Fox News yesterday, anchor Megyn Kelly started a segment on EPA air quality regulations with an outright lie:

“Coal industry groups sounding the alarm today that a fifth of America’s electricity generating capacity is about to be taken offline thanks to new federal regulations. They say that this will lead to wide spread power outages, rolling blackouts, job losses and skyrocketing energy costs.”

We know where this “fair and balanced” debate is going. Viewers don’t even need to watch the rest of the debate to know that the Environmental Protection Agency is already at your neighborhood coal plant pulling the plug.

Firstly, 20 percent of capacity is not going to get shut down. The Bi-Partisan Policy Center, FERC, and the Congressional Research Service all say the industry estimates are vastly overstated. In fact, a major group of progressive utilities already investing in renewables and more natural gas — the clean energy group — say that over 60% of coal plants that have submitted data on their emissions already meet the standards.

In fact, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission puts this figure at about 3.5 to 7 percent.

An analysis from the Center for American Progress shows that in 17 states, around half of capacity is already equipped with pollutions controls to meet air quality standards.

And coal plants are not “about to be taken offline.” The industry has had a full decade to prepare for these rules. Yes, they’ve been in the works for 10 years now. And if they get passed, the industry will have another 3 years to prepare for them.

On top of that, we already have enough natural gas capacity in place today to meet the most aggressive scenarios for plant closures. Some of that capacity isn’t exactly where you need it — but natural gas and renewable energy facilities can be developed in a matter of months, not multiple years. As the Bipartisan Policy Center explains, “drastic consequences” touted by the coal industry are “unlikely to occur.”

These rules simply will not create the kind of chaos that opponents are claiming. But with Fox News sounding the industry’s false alarm without question, they have an easy way to spread these lies.

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10 Responses to In Fox News ‘Fair and Balanced’ Debate, Host Megyn Kelly Makes False Claim That EPA Will Shut Down 20% of Coal Plants

  1. Jeffrey Davis says:

    You ought to be less ambiguous. The lie is that of the coal group she reports on.

    The smarmy, ****-****** complicity is hers and Fox’s.

  2. Bill G says:

    Big right wing media is driving all debate in Washington. Republican politicians know their voters listen to this propaganda and must fall in line with what Hannity, O’Rielly and Limbaugh state or lose office.

    Look behind the Big right wing propaganda media and see they simply shill for the wealthy and big business.

    A large, clever, big propaganda machine can bring an entire nation down. Just ask the Germans.

  3. Jeffery Green says:

    Fair and Balanced?

    Megyn Kelly was in HOrner’s corner the whole way. I get the feeling that coal needs all the help they can get. They know they are going down.

  4. otter17 says:

    Yet another Fox News debate where the audience now knows less by having viewed it.

    Just how in the heck do you broadcast a debate where you leave an unanswered question of whether 1/5 of our nation’s power grid will go offline? Two guys butt heads about the question, but was there a follow up investigation at the end of the debate to confirm one or the other? The uninformed viewer is left with nothing substantial at the end, except for maybe fear that the lights are going to go out someday.

    And was it just me or was Megyn putting in some awkward pauses at the beginning? Sounded like she was narrating the captain’s log from the Kirk days.

  5. It’s important to separate the two parts of the claim: 1) EPA’s actions will force 20% of coal plants in the US to retire and 2) the electric power grid will suffer because of these retirements. I think that something like #1 is probably true, and that’s a good thing because these are the oldest, dirtiest, and least efficient plants that were grandfathered under the clean air act, and internalizing the externalities of these plants has a sound economic justification. If they are uneconomic after these externalities are incorporated, then they SHOULD retire. Of course, #2 is a complete falsehood, as explained in the article, but separating these two parts of the claim makes a more effective response possible.

  6. Arne Perschel says:

    “Dire warnings” … “The sky is gonna fall” …
    And _we_ are the alarmists??
    High time we start spreading a catchy meme about this, I saw it somewhere, I can’t remember, was it ‘energy alarmists’?

  7. DonB says:

    Just watch Jon Stewart skewer Megyn Kelly here:

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-august-11-2011/lactate-intolerance

    The performance on coal just reinforces Stewart’s judgment that she was suffering from PPC [Post-Partum Compassion] which has “passed.”

  8. Chris Winter says:

    Humor with a bite: The Onion reports that Americans by and large feel more comfortable in a dying economy.

    “You get used to sending 50 resumés into the void each day and having them all go unanswered,” said Mary-Lee Jones, 46, of Cleveland, who later called the enduring unlikelihood of ever finding employment “her rock.”

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/report-at-this-point-most-americans-feel-more-comf,21190/

  9. Ed Sprole says:

    The coal industry(and fox news) wants people to panic despite the fact that many of these plants were planned for retirement long ago. The electric utilities are switching to the now cheaper(and cleaner) natural gas. They are converting some of the coal plants to natural gas.Those in the sector and the Republican PR guys at Fox want you to think it is a big liberal plot to cut off your power or raise your power rates. In reality, it is largely business decisions by utility execs.

  10. Ed Sprole says:

    BTW, it would be nice to be able to go fishing again without having to worry about the mercury levels in the fish!