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. They 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 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 digging out the truth. Please support this independent journalism today by donating to our critical Fall Campaign. We cannot do it without you. Thank you. -- Craig Brown, Co-founder

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.

A close-up of an EPA special agent's badge.

"Dissolving OECA would have a disastrous effect on EPA's ability to do its job." (Photo: EPA)

Trump Administration Considering Eradication of EPA's Enforcement Arm: Report

'Scott Pruitt endangered the health and welfare of Oklahomans when he closed his own environmental enforcement unit there, and now it looks like he wants to do the exact same thing at the EPA'

Nika Knight

The Trump administration is considering eradicating the enforcement arm of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), reported Inside EPA late Wednesday.

The administration is deciding whether to shutter the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) and force individual program offices to take over all enforcement duties, a "source familiar with the plan" told Inside EPA.

"Closing the office would almost certainly mean less enforcement work happens at the agency," explained the Huffington Post:

OECA handles both civil and criminal enforcement of the country's core environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Oil Pollution Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The office is an independent body with about 3,000 employees who "work to advance environmental justice by protecting communities most vulnerable to pollution."

"Dissolving OECA would have a disastrous effect on EPA's ability to do its job," said Nicholas Conger, who served as communications director for OECA from July 2013 through March 2016 and later worked in the EPA administrator’s public affairs office. Conger is now the press secretary of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Americans depend on a strong federal enforcement presence, and that depends on having a program that is directly focused on holding polluters accountable and ensuring they fix their problems."

The plan to shutter the OECA is similar to Scott Pruitt's 2011 efforts to close his agency's environmental enforcement office during his tenure as Oklahoma attorney general, observers note.

Pruitt, who is President Donald Trump's nominee to head the EPA, has been widely condemned by environmentalists as well as former EPA officials, and was sued this week for hiding his correspondence with fossil fuel companies.

"Scott Pruitt endangered the health and welfare of Oklahomans when closed his own environmental enforcement unit there, and now it looks like he wants to do the exact same thing at the EPA, imperiling families across America," said Liz Perera, Sierra Club climate policy director, in a statement. "Corporate polluters are not going to wake up and suddenly start policing themselves simply because Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt don't care what happens to our air and water."

Another source who spoke to Inside EPA further explained that by moving enforcement to program offices—which are tasked with taking input on and revising regulations—enforcement of environmental regulations will become political.

"[C]ollapsing these two functions ... into one office headed by a political appointee for the regulatory office is quite dangerous and fundamentally threatens enforcing protections," the source said.

In fact, Trump, a climate change denier, has appeared eager to politicize the EPA's work, earning a comparison to Stalin after the president ordered political vetting of EPA research before it is made public.

Just this week, the administration took the unprecedented step of sharply limiting the number of EPA employees allowed to travel to a conference in Alaska where climate change would be discussed.

Moreover, the anti-regulation head of the EPA transition, former Washington state senator Don Benton, will also be staying on to play a permanent role in the agency, Inside Climate News reported Wednesday. Benton took over the EPA transition, which was previously overseen by climate change denier Myron Ebell, after Trump's inauguration.

Meanwhile, groups are fighting back against the assault on regulations with a lawsuit filed Wednesday to combat Trump's "one in, two out" executive order gutting regulations nationwide. "When presidents overreach, it is up to the courts to remind them no one is above the law and hold them to the U.S. Constitution," an attorney for Earthjustice said, as Common Dreams reported. "This is one of those times."


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.

Schumer Endorses 'Inspiring Community Leader' India Walton as Buffalo's Next Mayor

The U.S. Senate majority leader's move comes as some key New York Democrats refuse to back the democratic socialist.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Who Will You Throw Overboard?' Manchin Targeted for Trying to Sink Democratic Agenda

West Virginians gathered at the senator's yacht to demand that he stop blocking the "popular and needed" Build Back Better package.

Jessica Corbett ·


'We Shouldn't Do It at All': Manchin Admits He's the Enemy of Democrats' Ambitions

The right-wing West Virginia Democrat and fossil fuel investor has previously confessed his intent to quash his own party's sweeping $3.5 trillion Build Back Better package.

Brett Wilkins ·


After Getting 'Stealth Bailout' During Pandemic, US Corporations Try to Kill Proposed Tax Hikes

"When it's time to finally put workers first, big businesses are spending millions to maintain their advantage and preserve the status quo," said Kyle Herrig of Accountable.US.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Disgraceful': Just 9 Republicans Join With Dems to Hold Steve Bannon in Criminal Contempt

The vote "reveals just how far the Republican Party has fallen" since Trump took control as GOP's de facto leader, said one pro-democracy advocate.

Jon Queally ·

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