Detroit — David Skole, a professor of forestry at Michigan State University, visited the Detroit News offices earlier this month to argue that cap-and-trade legislation would be an economic boon to America. As evidence, he sited the 1990 Clean Air Act, which initiated a cap and trade program for power plant–particulate emissions. “Everyone said it would be too costly,” Skole gleefully announced, “but they were wrong and it worked.”
In fact, like global warming science today, the “consensus” science in 1990 — which argued that Midwest power plants were destroying Northeast lakes with acid rain — was bunk. So how can Skole (and his allies) boldly stake their claim? Because Washington politicians and their media parrots covered up the scientific evidence in 1990 so that it would not derail the regulation they had long sought. It is a cautionary tale for those who think that truth will win the day after the newly released Climate Research Unit e-mails — a.k.a., Climaquiddick — have revealed fraud in global-warming science.
The NAPAP (National Acid Rain Precipitation Assessment Project) study published in 1989 – which took ten years and cost $500 million, the most comprehensive federal study ever undertaken — proved that acid rain was a minor nuisance and that passing expensive regulation would do little to address the supposed problem.
I briefly covered the story in Washington at the time having read alternative media reports in the Washington Times by Warren Brookes and Reason magazine. But, as in Climaquiddick today, the MSM buried the story’s tawdry details. In 1989, I spoke with two journalists who knew of the report’s conclusions, but who refused to report on it lest it jeopardize passage of the Clean Air Act. I interviewed then-EPA Chief Bill Reilly (a green Bush appointee) who dismissed the report. Congress, despite having spent half-a-billion, quashed the inconvenient science. Only one brief hearing was held.
Months after the regulations were voted into law, 60 Minutes became the first MSM outlet to look into the allegations that acid rain science was a hoax.
“(NAPAP chief scientist Ed) Krug and then-NAPAP director James Mahoney explained and defended the project’s conclusions,” reported Reason. “Both argued that acid rain is not a crisis. On acid lakes, (60 Minutes reporter) Kroft repeated NAPAP’s belief that acid rain contributes to acidity of only ‘about 2 percent of the surface water in the Adirondacks.’”
Asked about a New York Times story that claimed acid rain had turned forests in Appalachia into “ragged landscapes of dead and dying trees,” Krug told 60 Minutes, “I don’t know where they got that from. It appears to be another assertion, unsubstantiated.”
Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz also got wind of the NAPAP cover-up after the fact. Trying to explain why environmental reporters had ignored the scientific evidence that would have precluded $4 billion a year in regulatory compliance, he wrote: “Some reporters say privately that it is difficult to write stories that debunk the conventional wisdom of environmental activists, whom the press treats more deferentially than industry spokesmen and other lobbyists.”
Fortunately, the alternative press has grown since 1989 and today there are prominent news outlets like Fox and the blogosphere to help report the inconvenient Climaquiddick facts.
But as with acid rain, the MSM continues to filter out information that does not fit the Big Government green agenda. So that when MSU professor Skole spun his false tale of the Clean Air Act’s “success” before a group of journalists, he could assume ignorance of the science.