EPA has almost completely stopped doing their job this time last year, which means that our air is getting dirtier, our water is more polluted, and our overall health is deteriorating. Ring of Fire’s Mike Papantonio and Peter Mougey discuss this issue.


Mike Papantonio: EPA has almost completely stopped doing their job this last year, which means that our air is getting dirtier, our water is more polluted, and our overall health is deteriorating. The agency has cut way back in holding corporate polluters accountable. That’s bad news for everybody in this country, except Corporate America that has pumped so much money into this to make sure that this happens.

Peter, every time I pick up … Every week, there’s another story about people being exposed to radiation because of pollution or toxins in their drinking water because of pollution, because of corporate conduct. The air that children are breathing in some of these cities are so bad that they’ve actually done the studies and they say well, it’s coming from these three corporations. We know where it’s coming from. It’s called externalizing cost. Right?

Peter Mougey: Right.

Mike Papantonio: A corporation …

Peter Mougey: Passing the costs on to the taxpayer.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. A corporation doesn’t want to spend the money to clean the air, to do the air cleaning before … on top of the stack. They don’t want to spend the money cleaning the toxins before they go in the river. I saw a story just this week where an entire community is now exposed to radiation because the companies that were involved wouldn’t do their job. What is your take on the cutbacks that we’re starting to see?

Peter Mougey: The whole story starts with Scott Pruitt who’s now the head of the DEA. He’s the former AG from Oklahoma that was responsible for single-handedly trying to shut down the organization that he’s now running. Can you imagine? Let’s get this guy that does even think-

Mike Papantonio: Talk about that more. You’re not just … That’s not just … He really wanted, he really wanted to shut it down.

Peter Mougey: He filed state actions. as a state governmental representative filed state actions Oklahoma trying to minimize and shrink the DEA and said this is our fight. We want to get rid of the DEA. He tried to take over the battle and then you take that guy and have him run the DEA which is designed to protect us from , as you mentioned, the radiation, the accidental discharges, passing all this pollution, sending it down the rivers.

And so we’re now surprised which we shouldn’t be that the number of enforcement actions has decreased, the number of criminal fines if you take out the AG, I’m sorry, the Volkswagen fine, everything’s on the way down. Why is that surprising?

Mike Papantonio: We’re going to be like Beijing here. The last time I was in Beijing, honestly people were having to wear masks. They have oxygen bars there to where you can go in and actually be able to breathe fresh oxygen.

Peter Mougey: I love this. Hold on, bear with me. $2.98 billion in fines in 2017. $2.98 billion in fines from the EPA and now 2.8 of those came from Volkswagen. So if you take out the Volkswagen fines they’ve actually done nothing.

Mike Papantonio: Well actually there’s been 30 to 40% fewer criminal enforcement actions here.

Peter Mougey: Exactly.

Mike Papantonio: And that’s just since Pruitt’s taken over.

Peter Mougey: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: And so what-

Peter Mougey: This trend’s going to continue.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Peter Mougey: It’s going to get worse and worse and what you’re going to see is more cleanup problems because nobody’s watching. There’s no watchdog.

Mike Papantonio: Here’s the point. What people miss, they say well this doesn’t really bother me because I didn’t live in that neighborhood. It passes on to taxpayers.

Peter Mougey: Sure it does.

Mike Papantonio: What ends up happening is the company says, I don’t really want to pay for all this. I can increase my bonus if I can keep costs down. I can make more money for the corporation if I don’t do what I know I’m supposed to do because taxpayers when everything hits, taxpayers are going to have to pay for it.

Peter Mougey: That’s state and federal. I mean the super-fund sites are passed on to the federal taxpayers. I mean there are small communities that have super-fund sites that you would never expect. Not even just industrial heavy cities but the super-fund sites where they partition off the area and the federal government has to come in and clean them up because the company’s taken out all the profits and passed it along to the taxpayer to clean up later, generations later.

Mike Papantonio: There’s a great movie. I’m not saying it’s great just because I’m in it but it is a very good movie. It’s called “The Devil We Know” and it’s about the trial, it’s about the case I tried up in Columbus Ohio where DuPont was dumping just thousands and thousands, millions of gallons of toxins into the Ohio River and it caused cancer clusters all up through there.

It’s a great movie. It’ll be released I think the Toronto Film Festival is the release date and I think that’s next month. It’s called “The Devil We Know.” Go take a look at the trailer. It’s very well done.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.