Major Newspaper Editorials Ignore or Praise EPA Controls 90 Percent of Time

When the government pushes to destroy America’s biggest source of energy, you can certainly trust the media to jump on board.

On June 1, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled drastic new limits on carbon emissions, mandating steep emission cuts within 16 years. It’s a move that may cost  hundreds of thousands of jobs each year, but only 13 of the 20 major United States newspapers discussed the issue in editorials. Eleven of those papers actually promoted the new regulations with editorials or official endorsements – from their editorial board.

While promoting the new EPA regulations, major news outlets bashed Congress as obstructionist and as and in denial. The Washington Post bashed coal, saying “good riddance,” and 11 of the 13 major newspapers which addressed the issue at all directly praised the laws as a “vital first step” or the “boldest step” taken against climate change.

What the papers failed to mention was how much these new regulations could impact the economy. These regulations will mandate a 30 percent reduction of carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. Critics have already attacked the laws as killing jobs and hurting the economy. Fox News reported on a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study that predicted “the loss of 224,000 jobs every year through 2030 and impose $50 billion in annual costs.” 

Despite all the implications, prominent papers still praised the Obama administration’s plan. For example, the San Francisco Chronicle called these rules “a step in the right direction” and said “Obama has just taken the boldest step the U.S. has ever taken to fight global warming.” Similarly The Boston Globe heralded this “major step – and a long overdue and welcome one,” but they made clear that more regulations should follow this “vital first step.”

Other prominent papers focused their attacks on Congress, while complimenting Obama on bypassing the legislative branch. The Arizona Republic’s editorial board blasted Congress as the “’Flat Earth Society,’” echoing alarmists’ tendencies to compare climate skeptics to flat earthers.

The New York Daily News  was arguably even more critical of Congress. Its editorial staff attacked Congress’ 2010 rejection of cap-and-trade as “starting an unconscionable stalemate that left the President with no choice but to take solo action.”

Some editorial pages did address the inevitable economic impact of the EPA regulations but accepted the damage to the coal industry as good. For example, the Washington Post’s columnist Eugene Robinson admitted that “those aging, dirty, coal-fired plants will have to close” but assured his readers that “if the planet could speak, it would say good riddance.”

This is of course a glib way to dismiss 44 percent of national electricity production. The New York Times even reported in March that many low-income Americans are already struggling with electricity bills from environmental protections even without these added regulations.

While many major papers, such as the Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer refrained from editorializing the EPA’s move, only two papers actively criticized the plan. Predictably the Wall Street Journal bashed the rules as “anti-coal” that “will cut jobs and hurt the economy.” The Journal was joined by The Detroit News, which warned that there was no “credible plan for replacing the lost power.”

Methodology: The MRC’s Business and Media Institute examined June 2 and June 3 editorial pages for the top 20 largest United States-based newspapers. These newspapers were selected based on levels of circulation for 2014.