(NaturalNews) Four days ago, the Associated Press reported that coal-fired power plants are dumping enormous quantities of pollutants into U.S. waterways. According to the Associated Press, the EPA says that coal-fired power plants are dumping nearly 2 million pounds of aluminum, 79,000 pounds of arsenic, 64,000 pounds of lead and even 2,820 pound of mercury each year into U.S. waterways.
This original story by the AP
(dated January 18, 2014) was published, word-for-word, across the Denver Post
, ABC News
, the Washington Post
, the San Jose Mercury News
and even Salon.com
There's only one problem with all this reporting: nobody bothered to check their sources
The original AP story turns out to have been "restructured" from old news, packaged to appear like breaking news for 2014 even though it actually traces back to 2009 (see below). AP actually featured the story in its "Big Story" section
which implies that the stories published there are big, breaking news stories.
Associated Press quotes no one and cites no announcement or study
In its original story:
• AP never cited any person or department within the EPA.
• AP never linked to any announcement, publication, story or press release by the EPA.
• No scientific study was cited or named.
• No other news organization that ran the AP story bothered to check whether there was a legitimate source or scientific study to support these data. They simply ran the AP story word-for-word, without bothering to fact-check a single statement in the story.
The information actually goes back to an EPA paper published in 2009
I did a little digging on this -- a journalistic habit which I fully realize makes the people at AP extremely angry, as no one is supposed to actually fact-check the "Ministry of Truth" on what it publishes. (Which is why the AP routinely gets away with such loose journalism and why Reuters is almost always a more trustworthy source for news.)
It turns out this story goes back to a proposed rule from 2013
in which the EPA described its desire to restrict wastewater pollution as revealed in a scientific report issued in 2009. (Found here - PDF)
This PDF file describes the toxic effects of lead, cadmium, aluminum, mercury and so on.
So how did the Associated Press create a whole new story in 2014 based on old news from 2013 which was itself based on an old study from 2009? The AP simply "restructured" the story as if it were a recent announcement by the EPA, all while making sure nobody was actually cited in the story. I have no doubt that when this story ran a few days ago, the people at the EPA were scratching their heads and wondering, "Huh? Did we travel back in time or something?"
I wonder what it feels like to work at the AP and be able to just make up whatever news you want and magically have hundreds of mainstream media newspapers blindly copy and paste it onto their own websites without even asking for a single source or citation. For the record, folks, that's not journalism
. That's an embarrassment
The EPA has an important point in all this
I don't disagree with the substance of the EPA's concern, however. The EPA has an important point, and wastewater pollution from coal-fired power plants is a very big problem for our world. The routine release of arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury and other toxic elements into our world is justifiably alarming, and I'm personally seeing alarming evidence of this pollution showing up in my laboratory testing of foods for toxic heavy metals
But the way in which AP dredged up a proposed rule from early 2013 and then managed to get this engineered story replicated across hundreds of other news websites -- all while not citing a single source for their story -- just smacks of the kind of abandonment of journalistic standards we've all come to expect from the Associated Press. Does anybody fact-check stories at the AP? Or is that too "old school" for the AP now?
The really sad part in all this is that neither the Washington Post, nor the Denver Post, nor ABC News nor anybody else bothered to fact-check this story, either. As far as I can tell, Natural News is the only news organization in the world who has fact-checked this story
FYI, here's what the AP says the EPA claims is being released into waterways each year in the U.S. via coal-fired power plants:
• Aluminum: 1.97 million pounds
• Arsenic: 79,200 pounds
• Lead: 64,000 pounds
• Manganese: 14.5 million pounds
• Mercury: 2,820 pounds
• Nitrogen: 30 million pounds
• Phosphorous: 682,000 pounds
• Selenium: 225,000 pounds
• Zinc: 4.99 million pounds
For the record, I don't agree that nitrogen, phosphorous, selenium and zinc belong anywhere near the same threat category as lead, arsenic, mercury and aluminum.