Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 13, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

EASTERBROOK AND THE ENVIRONMENT....Gregg Easterbrook is complaining yet again about the media's unfair coverage of George Bush's environmental record:

The latest example of the media standing on its head regarding George W. Bush's environmental policies is the treatment accorded the White House announcement, last week, that Bush would impose a substantial reduction in emissions from Midwestern power plants. Did you even know this happened? Of course not, because news organizations either buried the story or twisted it to make it sound negative.

....The proper placement for this story was page one--where the anti-Bush environmental stories always run--and the proper headline was, BUSH ORDERS DRAMATIC POLLUTION REDUCTION. But you didn't see that, did you?

Maybe he's right, maybe he's wrong. Unfortunately, Easterbrook has proven himself so unreliable on this subject that his opinion is practically worthless. Here's an op-ed he wrote for the LA Times back in October:

Bush has implemented three major new environmental reforms for which he has received zero credit. He ordered that diesel fuel be reformulated to reduce its inherent pollution content over the howls of his natural constituency, Big Oil. He ordered that new diesel trucks and buses meet significantly stricter emissions standards over the howls of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, in whose Illinois district sits an enormous diesel-engine factory. Third, he imposed new emissions standards on a range of previously unregulated machines construction vehicles, outboard motors, all-terrain vehicles and others.

What Easterbrook doesn't mention is that of these three "major new environmental reforms," the first two were implemented by the Clinton administration. All Bush did was decide not to overturn them. And the third reform is still in draft stage and has been since April. There's no telling how the final regulations will turn out. Those are rather serious omissions from his piece, don't you think?

And there's more. As Easterbrook says, the fact that pollution has been decreasing steadily for the past 30 years is good news, but it has nothing at all to do with Bush's record, which includes loosening the new source rules for power plants, support for ANWR drilling, weaker enforcement of existing regulations, a proposed cap-and-trade scheme for mercury emissions, and no action whatsoever on greenhouse gases. Some of these positions may be defensible, but they are hardly pro-environment and it's the worst kind of special pleading to pretend they are.

I don't know what axe Easterbrook has to grind here, but whatever it is I recommend not accepting anything he says on environmental issues without checking it out yourself first. He's not necessarily wrong every time, but he's definitely untrustworthy.

Kevin Drum 10:43 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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