Juliet Eilperin flouts WashPost Ombudsman

In November 2009, Washington Post Ombudsman Andrew Alexander excused reporter Juliet Eilperin’s biased coverage of climate stories, but he also warned her that readers would be watching — presumably even on national holidays like the Fourth of July.

Before we get to her latest effort, you may want to review our October 25, 2009 article that prompted Alexander’s wet noodle lashing of Eilperin. In that article, we pointed out that Eilperin is married to Center for American Progress senior fellow Andrew Light, who specializes in climate policy. Wouldn’t it be nice if every activist group could own (or be married to) a Post reporter?

Anyway, the front page of today’s Post features an Eilperin story entitled “The climate issue takes a back seat.” The article starts out as follows:

Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate-change policy, makes a forceful case for the need to slash greenhouse-gas emissions and boost the efficiency of cars and small trucks: The moves will cut America’s oil consumption, foster the nation’s energy independence, save consumers money at the pump and help revive domestic auto manufacturers.

What she doesn’t volunteer is that they will curb climate change.

Before we get into Eilperin’s bias, we’ll first need to consider the latter assertion as it is central to the article’s glorification of the upcoming Obama gas mileage proposal.

The story’s graphic indicates that the upcoming Obama administration mileage standards would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 652 million tons annually by 2030. While this may sound like much to the casual reader, in reality it is a drop in the bucket that will have no discernible impact on climate change.

As Eilperin well knows, current global greenhouse gas emissions are on the order of 30 billion tons — and growing. So the putative 652 million ton reduction represents only about 2 percent of today’s emissions and will represent even less in 2030. It goes without saying that such a reduction will have no discernible impact on climate — but we will say it anyway.

Using Al Gore-approved IPCC formulas, had the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill been successfully implemented and U.S. greenhouse gas emissions reduced by 80 percent by 2050, about 0.04ºC of warming would be avoided hypothetically. Obviously, a 2 percent reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions is 40 times more meaningless.

Back to Eilperin’s article, if she didn’t already know that the 652 million ton figure is climatically insignificant (and I believe that she did and that she purposefully failed to inform readers), she could have learned as much by interviewing someone (like a climate skeptic) who isn’t an advocate for climate alarmism. Instead, Eilperin only interviewed:

  • Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change policy.
  • Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute, an activist group lobbying for carbon emission reductions;
  • Bailey Wood, a spokesman for the car industry which, aside from being Obama-owned, is also lobbying for carbon emission reductions;
  • Gina McCarthy, an Obama political appointee at the EPA in charge of implementing the administration’s carbon emission regulations;
  • Former Congressman Sherwood Boehlert, an Honorary Board member of Republicans for Environmental Protection, a group advocating carbon emissions reductions;
  • Tom Cackette, deputy CEO for the California Air Resources Board, the state of California’s air quality agency which is also pushing for carbon emissions reductions;
  • Greg Martin, a Washington, DC-based spookesman for the Obama-owned, carbon cap-lobbying General Motors; and
  • Rowland Hwang, a staffer for the carbon cap-lobbying Natural Resources Defense Council.

Eight interviews. All advocates for greenhouse gas regulations. No scientists. No skeptics. Yet Eilperin asserts, touts and deceives readers in no uncertain terms that higher mileage standards will have “climate benefits” and “curb climate change.”

Back in November 2009, then-Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander wrote:

It’s a close call, but I think [Eilperin] should stay on the [climate] beat. With her work now getting special scrutiny, it will become clear if the conflict is real.

Her conflict is crystal clear. The question is whether the Post will do anything about it.

You may want to ask the Post’s new ombudsman Patrick Pexton yourself. E-mail him at ombudsman@washpost.com.

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