In keeping with Fox News' war on the EPA, FoxNews.com is now suggesting that the Environmental Protection Agency's attempt to better incorporate sustainability into its decision making is a power grab. In an "EXCLUSIVE" about a months-old report known as the Green Book, Fox News executive editor George Russell baselessly claims that the EPA is trying to become a "much, much more important - and powerful - federal agency than it is, even now."
But the chair of the committee that co-authored the report with the National Research Council (NRC) said that the report recommends the "absolute opposite" of a power grab. Professor Bernard Goldstein explained over the phone that the report actually recommends that the EPA set specific sustainability goals and hold itself accountable by measuring these goals as objectively and "transparently" as possible.
The NRC said via email that the expert advice is purely discretionary: the EPA can "decide whether or how to act on any recommendations." As an EPA spokesman explained to Fox News, the agency has "not yet made any decisions on implementation" of the report's recommendations. Furthermore, the committee did not examine -- or recommend any changes to -- EPA's statutory authority. So it's not clear how Russell came to the conclusion that the EPA is seeking "vastly expanded power to regulate businesses, communities and ecosystems in the name of 'sustainable development."
And while Russell, who primarily covers the United Nations for Fox News, repeatedly ties the report to an upcoming UN conference in Rio de Janeiro on sustainable development, they are completely unrelated. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson commissioned the report more than a year ago in an effort to think more systematically about sustainability, and the EPA told Russell that it had no plans to discuss the Green Book at the upcoming UN conference. Russell counters that the report mentioned the upcoming summit -- but it was merely a passing mention a nearly 20-page section on the "History of Sustainability" in the U.S. and abroad. As Think Progress' Brad Johnson points out, connecting this story to the UN serves only to encourage conspiracy theorists' fearmongering about international population control -- a trip down memory lane for Fox News.
Is this what News Corp. had in mind when it said it wanted to "Engage [its] readers" on "sustainability issues"?
UPDATE: Fox Business' Cavuto and Power and Money covered the sustainability report on December 19. Neil Cavuto claimed that the EPA was "pushing to expand its power" and his guest Steve Milloy theorized that the agency "did the study so that they could get even more regulatory authority." David Asman declared that the study "determined that the EPA needs even more power to regulate" and will empower EPA to "tell us what we can eat -- what we can consume and what we can produce."