Inaccurate and Bigoted Editorial Evokes “The Paranoid Style”

July 21st, 2014 · economy, environment, health care reform, immigration, inequality, journalism, regulation, role of government, tax policy

By Arthur Alpert

Wow! What a July 4 editorial! I found it angry, bitter, twisted, deeply ignorant and inaccurate.

That is to say, very satisfying.

Let me explain. I have been reading the Albuquerque Journal closely for years but cannot figure out why it’s an insult to journalism.

Why do the editors regularly violate its simplest requirements, like accuracy and fairness?

This much I know – it’s not what you think.

It is true the daily habitually makes news decisions politically. And that its narratives – oligarchic in domestic matters and neo-conservative in foreign affairs – emerge sharply from what the editors decide is news, as well as opinion pages that list sharply to starboard.

In Journal-world, Government is responsible for 98 percent of what’s wrong with the world, labor unions the remainder.

And it is true the editors lately find lotsa space for multiple stories on Benghazi, a concocted IRS “scandal” and lately, some shots across Hillary Clinton’s bow.

Further, our daily bans stories on the economy’s systemic problems, on Wall Street’s political power, Corporate America’s massive tax evasion and one with New Mexico resonance – how Governor Brownback’s sweeping tax-cuts are cratering the Kansas economy.

So I understand when friends say the Journal is the Republican playbook plus sports and comics. But you know what? Even if the Journal were partisan that would not explain its journalistic malfeasance.

For you can be partisan without trashing journalism. The very Republican Wall Street Journal offers excellent news reporting.

So if the Albuquerque Journal were partisan, that wouldn’t account for the daily trespasses against journalistic decency we’ve documented here over the years.

And if the Journal were partisan, so what? From the perspective of a journalism critic, a partisan newspaper is unfortunate – i.e., tough on local candidates – but not tragic.

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A Nuclear Day of Remembrance

July 16th, 2014 · energy policy, environment

By Denise Tessier

At the risk of initially sounding weird, I remember where I was when word came that United Nuclear’s uranium tailings ponds had breached and spilled radioactive sludge into the Rio Puerco at Church Rock in western New Mexico. The event remains the largest uranium tailings spill in U.S. history.

I remember because that particular day I had taken off from my full-time job as environment writer for the Albuquerque Journal – where, among numerous other things, I covered the uranium industry and wrote countless stories leading up to the opening of the nuclear Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. I took the day off so I could attend a conference in Albuquerque and make a little extra money freelancing for Nucleonics Week.

I don’t remember what story I came up with for the McGraw Hill publication, but remember well standing in the Albuquerque Convention Center hallway, hearing about the spill, the front page story that would have been part of my normal reporting beat (that first story ended up being written by another reporter). I was  off that day – July 16, 1979 – because the Journal let staffers take a day for birthdays.

Because it was my day, I immediately noticed a coincidence that would not be picked up until later stories covering the spill. That is, that the breach occurred on the anniversary of another historic nuclear event in New Mexico, the testing of the first atomic bomb at White Sands.

If you’re old enough, you might remember having in your home paper calendars that businesses gave out as advertising in the 1950s and early ’60s. They had squares to write in appointments, but were notable for colorful illustrations that popped up on certain days – white-haired George Washington on his birthday, dark-bearded Abraham Lincoln on his (President’s Day hadn’t been created yet). A heart or arrow-toting cupid landed on Valentine’s Day, a crucifix graced Good Friday and a lily or colored egg could be found on Easter Sunday. The American flag or fireworks illustrated July 4.

On my birthday, July 16, the calendars had a mushroom cloud.

Nuclear events are part and parcel of New Mexico’s history – radiation showers after the bomb test, uranium tailings blowing dust off huge piles near Grants, radioactive rivulets trickling in the canyons near Los Alamos, yellowcake sludge spilling over the banks of the “Perky”, as the Navajo affectionately called the Rio Puerco that slaked the thirst of their sheep before the spill. This year, Valentine’s Day saw the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’s first radiation leak.

The Trinity nuclear weapons test was conducted July 16, 1945. Today marks the 35th anniversary of the Church Rock spill.

After the spill, I went out to Gallup and Church Rock and wrote stories about the people who relied on the mutton from the sheep that sometimes continued to drink from the Rio Puerco for water. The lead sentence on one was something like, “The Navajo have no word for radiation.”

Earlier this month, on July 7, my former New Mexico Independent editor Trip Jennings did a 35-year remembrance on the Church Rock spill for his more recent journalistic venture, New Mexico In Depth. “Remembering the largest radioactive spill in U.S. history ” not only recounts the spill, but includes insights about its legacy and that of uranium mining from former Los Angeles Times reporter Judy Pasternak’s book, Yellow Dirt.

Here’s one excerpt Jennings picked up from Yellow Dirt about the Church Rock spill:

The water, filled with acids from the milling process, twisted a metal culvert in the Puerco and burned the feet of a little boy who went wading. Sheep keeled over and died, and crops curdled along the banks. The surge of radiation was detected as far away as Sanders, Arizona, fifty miles downstream.

The IHS (Indian Health Service) and the state urged Navajos not to drink the water nor enter it, nor let their animals do so, anywhere downstream from the spill. But the people by the Puerco didn’t have many alternatives.

Kudos to Jennings for taking the time to recount the spill for the many who might not even be aware of it.

I’m glad he remembered, as we all should.


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Journal Comment Lacking on Net Neutrality; Public Can Weigh In Until Midnight

July 15th, 2014 · journalism, regulation

By Denise Tessier

Considering the importance of the internet both in the workplace and at home, it’s a shame the Albuquerque Journal didn’t have the time and resources to cover properly Federal Communications Commissioner Tom Wheeler’s visit to Albuquerque earlier this summer.

Under Wheeler, a former cable-industry lobbyist, the FCC is proposing rules on net neutrality, the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally, and the public comment period on those rules ends at midnight tonight.

The Journal’s “coverage” of Wheeler’s visit was four paragraphs at the end of a July 1 Politics Notebook column, the headline of which was based on the column’s main topic (“Martinez ad attacks King for vote on child support”).

(By the way, that piece’s coverage of the ad allowed King to comment, but it did not explain how the Martinez ad was misleading. Steve Terrell at the Santa Fe New Mexican did explain, putting in full detail and perspective the 1993 King vote mischaracterized in the ad.)

The four paragraphs of the Politics Notebook, marked “Connecting NM”, included a summary of the proposed rules, saying they “would allow Internet providers to give faster service to content providers that can pay higher rates. Critics have said the option will mean higher costs to customers for Internet access and content.”

The Journal did publish an Associated Press summary of the net neutrality issue May 15 in the Business section. Other stories about net neutrality are available to Journal subscribers online.

Albuquerque Business First actually covered the Wheeler hearing in Albuquerque. Now with Business First, former Journal writer/editor Dan Mayfield reported that:

Wheeler, although he was appointed by President Obama and has pledged to maintain an open Internet, was clearly in hostile territory Monday night. His past as a lobbyist for industry groups was the topic of conversation before the event. Several in the crowd of about 300 were vocal, shouting, and the moderator had to, at one point, take a break to calm the crowd down.

But Wheeler was anxious to tell how he came to his decision to vote to keep it open.

“When I was an entrepreneur, I had companies fail because they did not have access to networks. I am pro-Internet, and pro-free speech, and all that enables,” he said.

Readers also may find of interest this piece by Marisa Demarco, which appeared courtesy of New Mexico Compass just before Wheeler’s visit. It includes an explanation of the issue, video and contact information for making comments.


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Indulging in a Flight of Fancy

July 2nd, 2014 · journalism, open government, state government

By Arthur Alpert

It isn’t a smoking gun, but the Santa Fe New Mexican’s story last Saturday sure was an eye-opener.

Here’s the headline:

Records: N.M. paid Arizona firm ahead of provider shake-up

And here are reporter Patrick Malone’s first two paragraphs:

“Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration shook up the state’s mental health system last June when it said an audit had revealed 15 nonprofit groups that provided treatment to the poor had overbilled Medicaid by as much as $36 million. The groups were stripped of their contracts, and a handful of companies from Arizona were brought in to replace them.

“But months before the audit was even complete, the Martinez administration was already paying at least one of the Arizona companies for salaries, travel and legal fees, state records show. At least one payment to the company, Agave Health Inc., was made before the audit had even begun, according to the records.”

Before the audit had begun?

The New Mexican asked Matt Kennicott, spokesman for the Human Services Department, which ordered the audit, for comment and he defended the early payments.

“Bottom line is that the transitional agencies were prepping in case a transition did need to occur,” Kennicott said.

Malone updated his story Monday, June 30, noting some Arizona firms got “hefty” payments.

“In one example,” he wrote, “invoices submitted to the state for reimbursement by the Arizona providers show that the executive and management team of one company, Open Skies Healthcare, routinely billed the state $250 an hour to $300 an hour for wait times at airports and extremely long workdays.”

He also talked to some Democratic legislators who want a probe.

So there you have my brief summary of an extraordinary new development in the long-running behavioral health audit story.

Which I tell you for one reason – the Albuquerque Journal hasn’t. Through Wednesday, July 2, there’s been not one word from the state’s largest daily.

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Homeland Security’s Threat Against Journal an Attempt at Intimidating the Press

June 30th, 2014 · journalism, role of government, Washington

By Denise Tessier

The federal government under the Obama administration has been aggressive about prosecuting leaks , and concurrent with it, New York Times reporter James Risen faces jail time for refusing to disclose a source – this despite the Shield Law that is supposed to protect reporters from such prosecution.

Now, it appears the government has embarked on another threat to journalism, this time actually stating that it could exclude the Albuquerque Journal from future press briefings because of the paper’s three-part investigative series by Journal Washington correspondent Michael Coleman about the Department of Homeland Security, which ran in the Journal in April.

This threat was mentioned at the tail end of a Journal story about a 10-month Homeland Security investigation that resulted in 22 arrests (“Homeland Security cracks auto theft case ,” June 27). In it, Journal reporter Ryan Boetel included this reference to Dennis Ulrich, the special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New Mexico and Texas:

Ulrich took the opportunity at Thursday’s news conference to criticize the Journal’s series on Homeland Security earlier this year and threatened not to invite the Journal to future news conferences. The series reported on questions about how the agency’s mission has expanded since it was created after the 9/11 attacks and its increasing participation in local law enforcement.

Ulrich didn’t offer specifics about what he thought was wrong with series, titled “Mission Creep,” and Homeland Security hasn’t requested any corrections to the report.

Those two paragraphs were easy to overlook, coming as they did at the end of a news story, but Coleman himself brought attention to the threat via Twitter , writing:

Check this out: DHS threatens to bar my newspaper from pressers over my recent series on “mission creep” at agency.

Make no mistake, Ulrich’s comments – even if they are not carried out – are intended to have a chilling effect on the press.

While written for the Journal, with a New Mexico focus, the stories drawing the department’s ire were national in scope.  Coleman’s three-part series “MISSION CREEP” was one of the best enterprise pieces of journalism the Albuquerque Journal has done in recent years.

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Shame on the Journal for ‘Lame’ Editorial That Tried To Shame the IRS

June 23rd, 2014 · journalism, tax policy

By Denise Tessier

The Albuquerque Journal’s editorial board used ridicule to try to shame the Internal Revenue Service with Saturday’s shallow editorial, “Lame IRS excuse should be good for all taxpayers” (June 21). But sadly, in doing so, the Journal should be ashamed of itself.

The springboard for the editorial was the June 14 Associated Press story, “IRS lost emails by official in tea party probe,” which revealed a 2011 crash of the computer belonging to Lois Lerner, head of the division processing tax-exempt status applications during the time of alleged improprieties, and the resulting loss of her emails.

The AP story said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp was outraged, to the point that the Michigan Republican said, “There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the inspector general.”

Keep in mind that Ways and Means is one of three GOP-led congressional committees investigating the IRS over its handling of tax exempt applications from 2010 to 2012, plus the Justice Department and the IRS inspector general already are investigating.

As an editorial topic, the missing emails development was low-hanging-fruit – emails lost during investigation! The computer crash was years before the investigations commenced. And the Journal editorial chose to compare the loss to a child’s “dog ate my homework” excuse, which it characterized as “lame”. [Read more →]

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Samuelson and Piketty: It’s the “political” economy, stupid!

June 21st, 2014 · economy, labor, tax policy, Uncategorized

By Arthur Alpert

I’m lucky to have fallen, years ago, into journalism, where they paid me to learn how the world works. The cherry on the cake was a crash course in financial markets and economics courtesy of Financial News Network, CNBC and the Wall Street Journal Business Report for TV, tuition-free again with paychecks.

OK, they weren’t always big paychecks, but why carp?

I’m neither an economist nor a market whiz, but the folks I covered and my colleagues taught the ABCs.

Case in point – markets and the economy differ. While the stock market affects the real economy (and visa-versa), it doesn’t predict it, not reliably. Sometimes (said Wall Street pros) the market represents the value of future profits and sometimes, it signals where GDP is headed, that’s all.

Basic stuff, but Robert Samuelson, who has been reporting on markets and the economy for some 40 years, doesn’t know it.

That’s why his syndicated column in Wednesday’s Albuquerque Journal (June 18) isn’t helpful.

It’s all about how the stock market is up, “suggesting a recovery that’s on track and strengthening,” while interest rates on bonds have fallen, suggesting “bond investors expect the economy to weaken.”

Guess he’s forgotten the market’s steady ascent in 2007 just before we plunged into the Lesser Depression.

There are numerous examples of the markets’ disconnection from the economy, but let’s not pile on. For I believe Samuelson represents the Journal’s best foot forward in economics coverage.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Let me explain.

Besides Samuelson, the editors adorn the editorial page with George Will’s libertarian orthodoxy (no, he’s not a conservative any more) and claptrap (sometimes, partisan claptrap) from several other ideologues, of whom Cal Thomas is my favorite.

He’s unmatched in deifying the powerful.

Doubt that? Please read (or re-read) the Thomas column published under the rubric “Work ethic beaten down by disdain for wealthy” in the May 28 Albuquerque Journal. Note his failure to mention how the tax code favors Wall Street gamblers over, say, cops, firemen and teachers.

Or Thomas’ argument (Journal, May 14) against redistribution of wealth downward; note the topic of redistribution upward (via the political process) is nowhere to be found. Oversight?

Meanwhile, over on the Op Ed page, libertarians – some local, some imported – dominate again.

Samuelson, meanwhile, strikes me as well meaning if self-deluded. Take his attempt to size up Thomas Piketty, the author of the current intellectual sensation, “Capital in the 21st Century” in a column the Journal ran April 22.

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Washington Post Offer Gives Journal Readers Opportunity for Different World View

June 20th, 2014 · energy policy, environment, journalism

By Denise Tessier

I’d like to dovetail with the most recent post by my colleague, Arthur Alpert, and concur that I, too, was impressed with the Albuquerque Journal’s announcement that its subscribers would get the added bonus of “free access to the Washington Post online.”

First, however, I must sidetrack to note that 10 days after the Journal’s offer I still haven’t been able to access the free subscription, despite talking to three helpful people at the Journal last Friday (June 13) – each of whom said I’d be sent a link – and despite following up with an email to customer service to ensure they had the right address. There’s no way to access the subscription to the Post online –the Journal web site’s box announcing the deal leads only to what looks like a scanned copy of the little blurb that appeared in the paper June 11.

That said, Arthur was spot on in pointing out the chasm – he called it the Taos Gorge – between the ideological tones of the Journal and the Washington Post. This is what makes the offer a great deal for Journal readers, who can now avail themselves of a major news and editorial alternative at no additional expense (once the offer actually materializes). In doing so, they will get a better view of the realities related to national issues such as the Affordable Care Act and climate change.

Ideally, the cooperative venture between the Journal and the Post will make it easy for readers to hop over to the Post site for that other view. (Like many online newspapers, the Washington Post cuts off non-subscriber viewing after a limited number of articles, at which time a pay box pops up with subscription terms.)

Make no mistake, it’s still worthwhile — imperative even — for readers to check out the local alternatives – including the New Mexico Mercury, Santa Fe New Mexican, and what has evolved into a valuable news-tracker type feature at the New Mexico Telegram (sign up for daily emails of the Morning Word and be directed to a wealth of New Mexico-related stories from all over the state).

But what’s significant about the Washington Post offer is that it avails regular Journal readers of the stories and editorial opinions of a full-fledged news operation, with a full editorial board and close access to D.C. politics, one that comes up with observations and editorial opinions in direct contrast to the Journal’s worldview.

An example is the Post’s treatment of the topic of climate change. [Read more →]

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Klein, Kliff, Pincus and Sloan

June 16th, 2014 · economy, journalism, role of government, tax policy, Washington

By Arthur Alpert

It’s a great offer.

The Albuquerque Journal announced Wednesday, June 11 that its subscribers can get the Washington Post online at no additional cost.

I have been reading the WP on my iMac for years now, with particular appreciation for the contrast between it and the daily that hits my Albuquerque driveway daily.

Some differences arise from the Post’s location. It covers government, lobbyists and government employment a lot and often from a local perspective because many Post readers work in those occupations and live in the district or suburban Maryland and Virginia.

Like the Journal, the Post is editorially rightist but unlike the Journal it boasts a wall between editorial policy on one hand and journalism on the other. I have detected no narrow political agenda for news assignments or layout. It’s quite possible Post editors recite the traditional, “OK, let’s beat the opposition on this story.”

And – humongous difference – the Post’s opinion pages and blogs offer a wide gamut of views while the Journal….but you know how that works.

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Leadership Opportunity Dodged With Climate Change Editorial

June 9th, 2014 · economy, energy policy, environment, journalism, regulation

By Denise Tessier
For decades, climate scientists have been warning of the catastrophic effects of earth-warming pollution on the planet, effects that have accelerated in recent years. That history was laid out quite clearly for a mass audience with the June 2 episode of the Fox network program “Cosmos” (which played again June 3 on the National Geographic channel).

A few days later, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a plan intended to rein in some of that potentially devastating pollution. Some say the modest proposal to cut carbon pollution from American power plants (to 30 percent of 2005 levels over the next 16 years) could be too little, too late in terms of the quality of the environment being left to the next generation.

But in the face of the urgent need for some action the Albuquerque Journal editorial board moved with all the haste of a lumbering dinosaur, repeating in its opinion piece some of the same tropes that have been trotted out more than 40 years. In “Don’t expect emission changes to be painless” (June 7), the paper merely pronounced that the EPA proposal is “worth a serious public policy debate.”

In doing so, the Journal cited “conflicting” data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the EPA, complaining that such “diverging claims don’t advance the debate over what measures are both necessary and prudent for the United States to take.” It then claimed: “What is needed is honest, science-backed data.”

What this paragraph reveals, sadly, is a failure to acknowledge that there is science-backed data, and data should trump ideology and rhetoric when talking about the environment, human health and the future of the planet. In essence, the Journal refused to take a stand and repeated the trope that regulation is too costly, the Obama administration appears to be going too far, costs will hurt the public and more talk is needed before action is taken. In short, the Journal eschewed any leadership role.

In failing to take a stand the Journal missed an opportunity to “advance the debate over what measures are both necessary and prudent. . .”

Furthermore, when the editorial asserted that “in the long run (the EPA proposal) may do little to reduce CO2 emissions enough to stop or significantly slow climate change,” it technically was correct, but basically suggested that perhaps nothing should be done, even though the EPA proposal holds great promise in terms of improving human health. The Journal would have been better off, in terms of credibility, if it had remained silent.

(Before the editorial, the Journal actually was ahead of the game compared to some other newspapers when one considers that the New Mexico daily ran an Associated Press advance, “White House to reveal emissions reduction proposal,” on Page 1 the day of the announcement (June 2) and then localized it with a piece by reporter Kevin Robinson-Avila, “Impact of CO2 regulations on PNM unclear” on the Business cover (B1) on June 3. Some papers ran the EPA story strictly as a business, rather than news story, implying in itself that the financial aspects of the rules carry more weight than the health benefits.)

With regard to the “diverging claims” cited, the Journal editorial said:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says the rule will cost businesses more than $50 billion a year; the Natural Resources Defense Council estimates it will save money overall; and the EPA’s analysis asserts that the benefits of avoided public health or climate change costs would outweigh the increased cost of energy for consumers.

The editorial cites the Chamber of Commerce position – pollution control will cost money, but it is the Chamber’s function to point out costs. No one has said pollution reduction is cost-free. What’s interesting in this instance is that the Chamber analysis/report cited by the Journal was issued before the EPA proposal had been released. Reportedly, the CofC based its analysis on a Natural Resources Defense Council report, which envisioned what the EPA could do, not necessarily what it would do. Got that? The CofC report was based on an NRDC proposal, both of which were created before the EPA announcement.

But even if the CofC’s pre-packaged cost analysis proved correct, are its results onerous enough to trump the costs in human health in the absence of such controls? Climate Progress provided this context:

First off, as Paul Krugman noted, a $50.2 billion reduction per year is . . . 0.2 percent of the economy. And that loss of 224,000 jobs is out of a country of 140 million workers — America is adding more than 224,000 new jobs every two or three months right now.

Beyond that, there’s a history here. EPA has been issuing regulations on everything from coal furnaces to urban air quality for four decades. Studies sponsored by the fossil fuel industry have regularly predicted major economic hits as a result, and those hits regularly fail to materialize. In fact, when EPA moved to cut sulfur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants in 1990, the Edison Electric Institute predicted electricity rate hikes for the 10 most coal-dependent states. The Center for American Progress found that by 2009 their projection had overshot by 24 percent, and for several of those states the 2009 costs were lower than in 1990.

The way markets usually work is that the profit motive drives industries to find the best savings they can in their business models. But there’s no profit in cutting pollution, so there’s no incentive there to try. As a result, when regulations take effect to force them to cut pollution, industry tends to drastically underestimate the reductions they can get in a cost-effective manner.

And here’s another reason the Journal should not have allowed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to hold such sway: When asked, CofC member business organizations revealed that not all wished to be associated with the CofC climate change report.

Think Progress posted a piece saying it contacted “several dozen of the major corporations that have either contributed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or had executives currently serving on its board of directors” and none endorsed the new report.

From the ThinkProgress dispatch:

A spokeswoman for Intel directly distanced itself from the Chamber’s position. “We support the President’s Climate Action Plan,” she told ThinkProgress in an email, adding, “We can support this new rule if it is designed and implemented in a reasonable and cost effective way. We can’t know if those conditions are met until we see final rule next year and how it is implemented by states.”

While less explicit, other company spokespersons also distanced themselves from the report.

Even the Journal editorial included phrases indicating its objections were close to much ado about nothing, saying:

Public Service Company of New Mexico says it is in good shape to deal with new regulations as it is already planning to shut down two of the four coal-fired generating units at the San Juan Generating Station near Farmington and replace that energy production mostly with natural gas. . . .

Even without the new plan, the U.S. Department of Energy has predicted that energy costs will increase by 13 percent by 2020.

And another point worth considering: The rules might not even go into effect, and even if they do, it could be too little too late in terms of climate change. From New York Times columnist Frank Bruni:

The Obama administration did unveil a bold climate-change measure last week. Or, rather, it signaled its intent to act: We’ll have to wait and see whether Congress figures out a way to foil the president or the courts gum things up. The plan as it stands would cut carbon pollution from American power plants 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

But that may be too little, too late, according to an assessment last year by John Podesta, now a counselor to President Obama, in an interview with Harper’s Magazine before he joined the White House staff in late 2013. . . .

Podesta apparently reviewed what had been proposed and actually done in terms of carbon emissions and the like.

“But 50 years from now, is that going to seem like enough?” he said. “I think the answer to that is going to be no.”

From the Harper’s story:

The Obama Administration’s newly proposed regulations on power plants illustrate how the president continues to fall short of what science demands in the face of rapidly accelerating climate change. From a scientific perspective, there is much less to these regulations than either industry opponents or environmental advocates are claiming.

The reason is rooted in the White House’s habit of moving the goalposts on climate policy. From the earliest days of his presidency, Obama has repeatedly chosen 2005 as the baseline year for any proposed cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. In backing the 2009 Waxman–Markey climate bill, for example, Obama pledged to reduce emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. But the standard baseline year for measuring emissions — employed for decades by governments, scientists, advocates, and journalists around the world, and codified in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change — has always been 1990. Given the proper 1990 baseline, Obama’s pledge amounted to a reduction of less than 4 percent.

A story and chart from the Carbon Tax Center show just how little impact on the environment the new rules will have. Meanwhile, the U.S. climate has already changed.

But even if the rules have little effect on future climate, there is another important consideration, pointed out by both the NRDC and the EPA – benefits to human health.

From ClimateProgress:

. . .when the EPA modeled the actual regulations, it found annual costs to the economy of $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion annually, versus benefits of $55 billion to $93 billion by 2030. The benefits are primarily thanks to the health effects, which include avoiding 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children.

Those benefits will not be far in the future, they will arrive much faster. And because poor and minority Americans are disproportionately harmed by coal pollution, they’ll also enjoy the bulk of those benefits.

Meanwhile, the Journal chooses to back money over health and the environment.

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