Faithful readers of the Wall Street Journal should be forgiven if they believed that its recent multi-part series “Lead Legacy – A Wall Street Journal Investigation” revealed a significant new environmental problem that might become the next environmental crisis and start the next wave of tort litigation.
After the recent, well-publicized drinking water crises in Flint, Michigan, and Jackson, Mississippi, as well as the recent emergence of an obscure group of chemicals known to some as PFAS as a widespread contaminate of water supplies and soils, it would be understandable if readers of the WSJ thought another environmental crisis was unfolding. Readers likely asked themselves—has the WSJ uncovered the next environmental crisis and breeding ground for plaintiffs’ lawyers?
The answer to that question is a clear and definitive no. The WSJ series did not, as it claimed, “reveal a hidden source of contamination that hasn’t been addressed by companies or environmental regulators.” An analysis of the basis for the series demonstrates that interest groups behind the story stand to profit by exaggerating the potential environmental dangers. In fact, those groups pushed the narrative that lead cables are dangerous based on flimsy science.