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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler with President Trump

Photo by The White House

Gosh, President Donald Trump has really been busy lately: busy assailing Sen. Kamala Harris as "nasty;" busy choosing a new pandemic adviser, whose only qualification is that he praises Trump on Fox News; and busy dissing and dismantling our post offices.

But, instead of all this Trumpian political stuff, shouldn't a president be, you know, running the government? Nah ... that bores him. Besides, that's why he packed his Cabinet with all those corporate lobbyists and ideologues who've spent their lives trying to rig our government to serve the moneyed elites. Now, empowered by Trump, these special interests are our government, literally setting and running America's economic, environmental, labor, health, education, financial and other public policies. And what a job they're doing — on us!


Check out Andrew Wheeler, who has worked relentlessly over the years as a Washington insider trying to pervert the EPA into the Environmental Polluter's Agency. Wheeler was a top lobbyist for coal mining giant Murray Energy, constantly fighting rules implemented to make this notoriously foul industry clean up its act. Now, as head of the EPA, the befouler's lobbyist is making the rules, twisting them to allow Big Coal, Big Oil and other fossil fuel bigs to pour more toxic contaminants into our air and water.

Wailing that poor multibillion-dollar energy giants must be freed from "burdensome" requirements to limit the damage they do, Wheeler has consistently put corporate profit over the health of America's people and our planet. Burdensome? His latest gift to profiteers is to free oil and gas corporations from having to find and fix methane leaks in their wells, pipelines and storage tanks. Hello, if you had a gas leak at your house, would you not want to "burden" the company to come fix it?

Not only is methane a potent greenhouse gas causing climate change but Wheeler's bureaucratic favor to his former (and, no doubt, future) employers comes just as scientists have discovered that methane leaks are two to three times worse than his EPA has been reporting. This means the industry is driving us toward a climate crisis faster than anyone realized.

Talk about nasty. The Trumpeteers get government bass ackward, protecting polluters from the people, rather than vice versa.

It seems like the top regulatory officials in Trump's government get up every morning and chant the same one-word mantra before going to work: "Deregulate ... Deregulate ... Deregulate ..."

Each of the Trump acolytes running agencies meant to prevent abuses by profiteering corporations are instead working feverishly to advance the abusers. Day after day, these agency bosses have been "liberating" greedy business interests to do their damnedest to us consumers, workers, the environment ... and even our chicken dinner.

Yes, chicken, which millions of Americans like crispy fried or as soup or in tacos. But how about a more exotic dish called Chicken a la Avian Leukosis? That's chicken infected with a virus that produces cancerous tumors and lesions on the birds. No? Well, believe it or not, it's coming to a supermarket near you. In July, the Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service rubber-stamped a demand by the National Chicken Council to deregulate chicken processing rules so the likes of Tyson Foods and other multibillion-dollar meat conglomerates can sell chickens with avian leukosis for human consumption. And, no, the huge brand-name marketers would not even be "burdened" by having to put a right-to-know label on the package telling consumers what they're buying.

As always, the industry line is: "It's perfectly safe. ... Trust us!" Uh ... no. Their claim is that slaughterhouse line workers can simply cut out any tumors they see and then process the rest of the animal. There are two problems with this claim: First, avian leukosis can be a systemic disease passing through the blood, so slicing tumors doesn't necessarily eliminate the virus. Second, line workers don't have time to see (much less remove) tumors, since Trump's submissive regulators have also allowed poultry factories to speed up their processing lines to 175 birds per minute. This requires each worker to handle as many as three chickens a second !

Trump & Co. assert that their policy of relentless deregulation is necessary to make the system fair for corporations. However, as former President Lyndon Johnson used to say about such political hokum, They can't make chicken salad out of chicken s—-. To learn more, go to Food & Water Watch: https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

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