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 sign held at the March for Science in San Francisco, California, on April 22, 2017. (Photo: Matthew Roth/flickr/cc)

In Super Tuesday 'News Dump,' EPA Expands Rule Limiting Science the Agency Can Use to Make Public Health Policy Decisions

"Now is not the time to play games with critical medical research that underpins every rule designed to protect us from harmful pollution in our air and in our water."

Julia Conley

As most political observers were watching the election results in the Democratic primary from 14 states come in Tuesday evening, the EPA quietly published a proposed change to a rule the Union of Concerned Scientists has called "nonsensical and dangerous"—expanding the agency's so-called "secret science" rule to further limit the scientific evidence the EPA will consider in its work.

In what Mother Jones environmental reporter Rebecca Leber called "an incredible news dump" in the midst of a contentious election, the EPA "moved forward its most controversial proposal of the Trump administration."

Under the rule, which was first proposed by former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt in 2018 and is officially called "Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science," the EPA cannot use scientific studies to guide its regulatory work unless the underlying data used by the studies is available to the public.

The "supplemental notice" published Tuesday night would expand the rule to apply not only when the agency is considering a new rule or regulation, but to all EPA activities, including when the EPA is sharing "influential scientific information."

As Betsy Southerland, a former official in the EPA's Office of Water, told Bloomberg News, "The EPA couldn't cite a study about sea level rise in coastal communities if the study relies on a proprietary model that's not available for free—'even if it's not used to regulate anything.'"

"This supplemental notice compounds the damage done," Southerland told Bloomberg.

Critics say the expansion of the proposed rule, which the EPA expects to go into effect later this year, will ultimately downplay the effects of pollutants, chemicals, and other public health threats on communities. Scientists frequently use epidemiological studies to determine how the EPA should regulate such substances, but such research often includes private medical data—which would make the studies off-limits to the EPA under the "secret science" rule.

"They are basically going to say the studies where the data is publicly available are better than studies where the data isn't publicly available, irrespective of how good and important the science and the evidence is," Andrew Rosenberg of the Union of Concerned Scientists told The Hill. "It's totally not scientific."

The rule could have dire implications in the face of a public health crisis like the one currently facing the U.S. and other countries around the world.

"Think of this in the context of coronavirus," Rosenberg told The Hill. "Can you imagine data being the most important thing or do you want scientific research that is robust?"

With many communities across the country facing the effects of pollution from the fossil fuel industry, "Now is not the time to play games with critical medical research," wrote Gina McCarthy, president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and former EPA administrator under the Obama administration.

The rule could open the door for industry-funded studies to make their way to the EPA for consideration as the agency makes regulatory decisions. Industry scientists could make their underlying data public in the interest of gaining the EPA's favor.

"The 'censored science rule' inherently gives industry an unethical advantage that will contribute to environmental injustice," said Dr. Bernie Goldstein, former chair of the EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, in a statement. "For example, consider an impending EPA science based regulation that will affect the extent of emissions to a disadvantaged community from a major industrial source."

"Under this rule," he said, "only one side, industry, can afford to hire consultants whose success is dependent on slicing and dicing the raw data to find trivial issues that can be artfully distorted and magnified."

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