The Associated Press (AP) defended its article attacking the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Hurricane Harvey cleanup efforts after the agency claimed that the AP’s report was “cherry-picking facts.”
Breitbart News reported that the EPA struck back against AP environmental reporter Michael Biesecker’s article that criticized the agency’s cleanup efforts during Hurricane Harvey.
Biesecker wrote an article suggesting that the EPA did not take adequate steps to safeguard Superfund sites, or areas that have become polluted by hazardous materials and will have been listed by the EPA to be cleaned up.
The EPA counters the AP’s report in a press release, stating:
Despite reporting from the comfort of Washington, Biesecker had the audacity to imply that agencies aren’t being responsive to the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey. Not only is this inaccurate, but it creates panic and politicizes the hard work of first responders who are actually in the affected area.
The EPA contends that of the 41 Superfund in Hurricane Harvey-affected areas, 28 show no damage, and only 13 show experienced flooding.
Further, the EPA claims that Biesecker ignored that the EPA and state officials worked with responsible parties to secure contaminated areas before the hurricane hit. The EPA says, “Leaving out this critical information is misleading.”
The agency also claims Biesecker created “panic” regarding the impact that Hurricane Harvey had on EPA Superfund sites.
AP Executive Editor Sally Buzbee defended the Biesecker article. “AP’s exclusive story was the result of on the ground reporting at Superfund sites in and around Houston, as well as AP’s strong knowledge of these sites and EPA practices,” Buzbee claims. “We object to the EPA’s attempts to discredit that reporting by suggesting it was completed solely from ‘the comforts of Washington’ and stand by the work of both journalists who jointly reported and wrote the story.”
The Associated Press’s Michael Biesecker previously wrote misleading stories about the EPA and administrator Scott Pruitt. This summer, Biesecker invented an imaginary meeting between Pruitt and Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris and alleged some impropriety from this fake meeting.
A Breitbart News investigation led to the AP’s retraction of Biesecker’s previous article after it became apparent that the author did not take adequate steps to verify his reporting.
EPA Associate Administrator Liz Bowman argues in a statement that the EPA continues to do everything in its capacity to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, despite misleading articles from the AP. Bowman charges, “EPA is monitoring Superfund sites around Houston and we have a team of experts on the ground working with our state and local counterparts responding to Hurricane Harvey. Anything to the contrary is yellow journalism.”