New York Times “climate reporter” Hiroko Tabuchi went to war against “secretive...conservative" free-market groups that are fighting counter-productive regulations in Wednesday’s edition: “Warriors Against Environmental Rules Champion the Dishwasher.”
Environmental reporter Tabuchi found herself in the strange position of embracing corporate public-relations-speak from dishwasher manufacturers, in the cause of defending regulations. It’s not a new concept. Large corporations often embrace regulations knowing they keep smaller less-capitalized competitors out of the market.
Of all the conservative efforts to persuade the Trump administration to weaken the nation’s environmental rules, the dishwasher lobby might be the most peculiar.
“Dishwashers used to clean a full load of filthy dishes in under an hour. But now they take an average of two and a half hours and STILL leave dishes dirty!” reads one online petition promoted by FreedomWorks, a libertarian offshoot of a group co-founded by the late David H. Koch and his brother Charles Koch, who made their fortune in fossil fuels. The decline of American dishwashers, the site says, is “all thanks to crazy environmentalist rules.”
The petition, titled “Make Dishwashers Great Again,” is just one part of a broad campaign coordinated by conservative organizations with ties to fossil-fuel companies. Trump administration emails made public as part of a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club shed new light on the effort, designed to persuade the Trump administration to weaken standards on a long list of home appliances.
The weakening of dishwasher rules is just one of many cases where a Trump administration regulatory rollback is in fact opposed by the very industry the White House claims it will help.
“We appreciate the sentiment,” Jennifer Cleary, an executive at the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, wrote in a 2018 letter to administration officials. But weakening the standards would incur “additional costs for manufacturers and, ultimately, consumers.”
So did the initial regulations. But the liberal press dismisses those kind of arguments. Tabuchi portrayed the Trump administration on defense.
In an interview, Daniel Simmons, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, defended the department’s actions.
“People’s time is a nonrenewable resource. People get frustrated when their appliances take longer, whether it’s dishwashers or washing machines,” he said. The department, he said, had received “an overwhelmingly positive response from consumers who were tired of waiting for their dishes to dry.”
“It’s not our job to meet industry’s wishes,” he added. “At the end of the day, we’re answerable to the American people and not any particular interest group.”
Suddenly, companies are reliable truthtellers, at least when they favor regulation of their industry (which again, favors established companies that can afford to abide by regulatory costs).
Dishwasher makers themselves dispute that dishwasher performance has gotten worse because of environmental regulations and they say they aren’t looking for weaker standards....
It's no shock that dishwasher makers would defend their product’s performance.
“It’s confounding, it’s hard to explain, this blanket attack on regulations,” said Jason Hartke, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, a bipartisan nonprofit organization that represents businesses, environmental groups and consumer advocates. “I don’t think they’re listening to industry,” he said. “They’re trying to put out-of-date, inefficient products in American homes.”
Because when one is fighting for the “climate,” one should always “listen to industry”?
Tabuchi’s reporting took on a familiar paranoid tone.
Much of the support for these rollbacks has come instead from a small group of conservative, free market organizations, many allied with the fossil fuel industry. For example, a secretive policy group financed by corporations, the American Legislative Exchange Council, worked alongside the gasoline producer Marathon Petroleum to urge legislators to support weakening the clean-car rules.
Tabuchi has a history of “peculiar” and biased reporting on environmental issues.
In July 2019 she used another leak from liberals to aggressively label"deniers" of drastic climate change. The paper's headline was "As Carmakers Balk, Warming Deniers Seek to Gut Emissions Rules." Online, the headline was "Climate Change Denialists Dubbed Auto Makers the ‘Opposition’ in Fight Over Trump’s Emissions Rollback."
A January 2019 story carried the online headline: “A Trump County Confronts the Administration Amid a Rash of Child Cancers.” It was the old “cancer cluster” concept she used to protect regulations from repeal, implying a link that isn’t proven or even substantiated.
In January 2017 she found a left-wing environmentalist to smear as “racist” the effort by libertarian industrialists Charles and David Koch to convert minorities to their viewpoint on energy issues.