Getting the EPA story right

KAAL's David Springer, giving TV news a good name.

Loyal reader and regular news-tip-sharer Bob Moffitt sent me a link to a story this morning from a Rochester, Minnesota, TV station about the EPA’s new Cross-State Air Pollution Rule.

My initial reaction was skepticism. Having worked at a newspaper for five years, it’s in my DNA to have a low opinion of local television news. The “Braking Wind” hack job from our local Fox affiliate earlier this year didn’t help matters.

But seriously, check out this story from Rochester’s KAAL. Given the time limitations of the TV format, reporter David Springer does an outstanding job explaining what the rule does, and, more importantly, that the costs of the regulation need to be weighed against the health benefits. Moffitt, who is interviewed in the story, says those benefits will far outweigh the costs, a prediction that is in line with the EPA’s estimate of $120 billion to $280 billion in health and environmental costs savings.

That, in turn, is consistent with retrospective studies of past EPA actions, one of which found the benefit/cost ratio of the Clean Air Act between 1970 and 1990 was 42 to 1 (while the U.S. economy continued to grow).

As Grist’s David Roberts pointed out last fall, every new regulation comes with a hew and cry over the costs, often with little discussion of the benefits, and that historically, the industry’s dire predictions of economic disaster have failed to materialize.

Hats off to KAAL for keeping this fiction out of their reporting.

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