STIFLING THE REGULATORS Al Armendariz, a top Environmental Protection Agency official for his Region 6, which includes New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana, has resigned over a YouTube video of a speech in which he declared that the agency should hit polluters with its full powers.
Shouldn’t that be the expectation of an EPA regulator? Well, yes, but there is a problem. Armendariz hypothesized in the speech that crucifixion might be the effective deterrent.
Nailing BP’s Tony Hayward to a cross might be a little extreme for even the most radical tree-hugger, but you have to admit it might make BP think twice about taking any more risks while drilling…might.
The YouTube video is of Armendariz speaking in 2010 to local businesses and government leaders. He focused on enforcement regulations on fracking—hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas extraction—which has become the new hot issue for the oil and gas industry.
“It is kind of like how the Romans used to conquer villages in the Mediterranean — they’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere and they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them,” Armendariz said. “Then that little town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”
To further explain his point, Armendariz said, “And so, you make examples out of people who are, in this case, not complying with the law. You find people who are not complying with the law and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them. There’s a deterrent effect there.”
Damn right, it would have a deterrent effect. However, Big Oil isn’t going to sit still, not when there are billions to be made.
For Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the video was what he needed to add more fuel to his campaign against EPA regulation. He used it as a club to hamper efforts by the Obama Administration to regulate fracking, and, of course, the resignation was not enough for Inhofe.
“After his revelation that E.P.A.’s ‘general philosophy’ is to ‘crucify’ oil and gas companies, it was only right for Administrator Armendariz,” Sen. Inhofe said in a statement, “but his resignation in no way solves the problem of President Obama and his E.P.A.’s crucifixion philosophy.”
The one who got “crucified” was Armendariz. Time will tell how effective the deterrent is to others trying to regulate fracking.