Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

An air tanker drops fire retardant on a fire in the Sierra National Forest in California. The chemical was ruled unsafe to certain species by the Fish and Wildlife Service. (Photo: USDA/flickr/cc)

How an Agency Charged with Protecting Endangered Animals Ignored Them Instead

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service did not intervene in thousands of environmentally harmful projects, new analysis shows

Nadia Prupis

Since 2008, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has consistently refused to intervene in tens of thousands of projects considered potentially harmful to endangered animals, a new analysis by a conservation group published Monday reveals.

Defenders of Wildlife looked at an internal FWS assessment on the impact of more than 88,000 development projects on animals protected by the Endangered Species Act. FWS, along with the National Marine Fisheries Service, is required under the act's Section 7 to ensure federal projects are not likely to "jeopardize" or "destroy or adversely modify" a species or habitat.

Not one project was halted under those guidelines.

"The Endangered Species Act includes a basic, common sense, look-before-you-leap requirement: federal agencies must consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that their proposed actions won’t threaten a listed species’ survival," said Ya-Wei Li, senior director of the group's Endangered Species Conservation project and a co-author of the study.

"While our findings should lay to rest the unfounded claims by ESA-opponents that the act is destroying jobs and the economy, the study raises significant questions as to why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has virtually ceased finding that any projects threaten a species’ survival," Li said. It also "dispel[s] the myth that the Endangered Species Act blocks projects and kills jobs across the country."

The results also show that the FWS's hands-off approach has strengthened over time. As the Guardian reports, "A tally from 1991 shows that there were 350 'jeopardy judgements' out of 73,560 previous consultations, compared with the two adverse outcomes in 80,000 cases over the past seven years."

The FWS intervened in a plan to use fire retardant in California, which was found potentially harmful to some species and may now only be used in designated zones, and restricted a plan to divert water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, which threatened the endangered smelt.

Further complicating matters is the fact that the FWS can only regulate the "surface" of the habitats it oversees. That means private entities who own the land those habitats sit on have the legal standing to exploit it for resources. More than 100 wildlife refuges around the country have been converted into oil and gas drilling sites under that rule, the Guardian added.

As Li explained, "The Service [is] culturally less inclined to rock the boat. We need to take a step back and consider whether section seven is adequately protecting our species."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Fatal Film Set Shooting Followed Outcry by Union Crew Members Over Safety Protocols

"When union members walk off a set about safety concerns, maybe 'hiring scabs' isn’t the solution you think it is."

Julia Conley ·

New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·

'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·

West Virginia Constituents Decry 'Immorality' of Joe Manchin

"West Virginia has been locked into an economy that forces workers into low-wage jobs with no hope for advancement, and after decades of this our hope is dwindling," said one West Virginian. "The cuts that Sen. Manchin has negotiated into the agenda hurt our state."

Julia Conley ·

'Texans Deserved Better Than This': Supreme Court Leaves Abortion Ban in Place

The nation's high court set a date to hear a pair of legal challenges to the "horrific" restrictions.

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo