12. What Happened to the EPA?
In These Times, 2040 N. Milwaukee Avenue, 2nd Fl. Chicago, IL 60647-4002, Date:
4/22/92, Title: "Wasting Away at EPA," Author: Joel Bleifuss
Censored Researcher: Jennifer Makowsky
SYNOPSIS: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), created
by Richard Nixon in 1970, has been the watch-dog agency protecting our
air, our water, our resources and our ecology for more than two decades.
But some of its critics believe our environment would be in better shape
today if the EPA hadn't been around.
William Sanjour, a longtime EPA whistle-blower,
is one of those not satisfied with the EPA's performance. In early 1992, he came
up with a series of proposals that would thoroughly reform the agency.
proposal titled, "Why EPA is like it is and what can be done about it,"
was prepared for and published by the Environmental Research Foundation, in Washington,
DC. He addresses the question, "Why is EPA so often on the wrong side of
environmental issues when the EPA is chartered to protect the environment?"
has had a lot of time to ponder this question: For the past three years, he has
had a desk at EPA but nothing to do since his superiors have refused to assign
him any work.
In his report, Sanjour charges that when the EPA does act to protect
the environment, it is only because the agency 'was forced or coerced
into taking action.' He mentions three points: 1) The EPA, more often
than not, opposes congressional attempts to pass tough environmental
laws; 2) The EPA spends more time and money figuring out how to exempt
corporations from regulations than it does enforcing them; and 3) The
EPA's will to regulate is so weak that a proposed regulation must be
under a court-ordered deadline (brought by an environmental group) before
it will even be considered for the EPA administrator's signature.
to Sanjour, the problems at EPA are shared by all regulatory agencies (i.e., they
are more concerned with protecting the interests of the party they are supposed
to regulate than in protecting the public's interests).
are also concerned with protecting their own interests. Sanjour lists 20 high-ranking
EPA officials who left the agency and went on to prosperous careers in the hazardous
waste management industry. Most of the former EPA administrators are now millionaire
waste industry executives, and ten of them are now employed by the world's largest
waste management corporation-Waste Management, Inc., and its subsidiary, Chemical
Sanjour cites a number of disturbing conflicts of interest
resulting from the revolving door system between the EPA and the corporate waste
industry; he also suggests 14 proposals for cleaning up the EPA.
Times author Joel Bleifuss concludes that Sanjour has come up with a number of
workable solutions to the crisis at EPA and hopes the nation's environmental organizations
will pressure Congress to implement them.
In addition, the nation's media
should have put William Sanjour and his comprehensive report on the national agenda
so that the public could learn why our environment is the way it is and what can
be done about it.
COMMENTS: "What happened to the EPA?" is an appropriate
question to ask at the end of the Reagan/Bush era, particularly since
it now appears that the agency, designed to protect our environment,
defected and joined our environment enemies.
Joel Bleifuss, in his story of an EPA whistle-blower, documents the
final battle in the Reagan/Bush war against the agency. He notes that
while "specific instances of regulatory abuse at the EPA are occasionally
covered by the mass media, the structural problems at the EPA have been
Bleifuss adds that if information about the close ties between waste
industry officials and senior environmental regulators in the government
were made public, it would undermine the public's trust in the waste
industry. And since the waste industry is one of the most corrupt industries
in the world, Bleifuss says it should be exposed as such.
Events leading up to the demise
of the EPA as a regulatory watchdog were cited in several recent censored nominations.
the #2 ranked story of 1988, Jim Sibbison, former EPA publicist turned investigative
environmental reporter, exposed Reagan administration overt efforts to soft-pedal
pollution stories. Sibbison also revealed how executives from industry met secretly
with officials of the White House's Office of Management and Budget to discuss
pending new EPA regulations; the OMB allowed the executives to suggest revisions
in those regulations and the EPA subsequently made the necessary changes.
one of the top 25 Censored stories of 1989, Sibbison, in yet another expose, documented
how public employees were leaving the EPA for high salaries in the very corporation
they formerly were supposed to regulate. The synopsis was titled, "The Revolving
Door Between EPA and Polluters."
And, in the #8 Censored story of 1991,
investigative journalist Eve Pell revealed how American corporations, no longer
concerned with toothless EPA regulations, had gone on the offensive to retaliate
against the environmental movement with a wide assortment of dirty tricks and
Nonetheless, like the Phoenix, the EPA may rise again.
As noted in the synopsis, William Sanjour, the scorned EPA whistle-blower, has
developed a number of workable solutions to the crisis at EPA which, with the
support of a new administration and Congress, could help the agency fulfill its