A top-ranking Environmental Protection Agency official has apologized for comments he made in 2010 regarding the EPA’s “general philosophy” of policy enforcement.
Al Armendariz made headlines last night after a 2010 video of him discussing EPA's practice of financially and politically pressuring oil and gas companies into compliance was unearthed by the offices of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). Armendariz even references the Roman tactic of crucifixion as a means of intimidation.
“I apologize to those I have offended and regret my poor choice of words,” Region 6 EPA Administrator Al Armendariz said in a statement first provided to the Daily Caller.
“It was an offensive and inaccurate way to portray our efforts to address potential violations of our nation’s environmental laws. I am and have always been committed to fair and vigorous enforcement of those laws,” he added.
However, as mentioned in The Blaze article yesterday, it’s not Armendariz’s choice of words (or his macabre imagery) that has people crying foul, it’s the fact that a top-ranking EPA official has gone on record saying EPA’s “general philosophy” of policy enforcement against the oil and gas industries involves financial and political pressure and intimidation.
Sen. Inhofe, the man whose office is responsible for finding the 2010 video, agrees: “What he has attempted to do is kill oil, gas and coal … but do it in a way that the American people won’t be aware of it.”
“They are able to scare people, intimidate people, and these are the very people who are hiring people and doing what’s necessary to run this machine called America,” he added.
The senator was a guest on Fox and Friends Thursday to discuss EPA's "crucify them" strategy and Armendariz’s apology (via Fox and Friends):
“Let’s keep in mind, this is all a part of Obama’s war on domestic energy," the senator said.
And just in case you missed it, here is the original 2010 video of Armendariz:
But as I said, oil and gas is an enforcement priority, it's one of seven, so we are going to spend a fair amount of time looking at oil and gas production.
And I gave, I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement, and I think it was probably a little crude and maybe not appropriate for the meeting but I'll go ahead and tell you what I said. It was kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They'd go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they'd find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.
And so you make examples out of people who are in this case not compliant with the law. Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there. And, companies that are smart see that, they don't want to play that game, and they decide at that point that it's time to clean up. And, that won't happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people.
So you go out, you look at an industry, you find people violating the law, you go aggressively after them. And we do have some pretty effective enforcement tools. Compliance can get very high, very, very quickly. That's what these companies respond to is both their public image but also financial pressure. So you put some financial pressure on a company, you get other people in that industry to clean up very quickly.
So, that's our general philosophy.