The Obama-appointed Environmental Protection Agency official who explained that the agency uses a “crucify them” enforcement philosophy against oil and gas companies apologized for his comments on Wednesday night.
“I apologize to those I have offended and regret my poor choice of words,” Region 6 EPA Administrator Al Armendariz said in a statement 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. ”
On Wednesday morning, Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe highlighted a speech Armendariz gave in 2010 in which he described the manner in which the agency keeps oil and gas companies under their thumb.
“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,” Armendariz 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’d crucify them,” Armendariz said.
“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,” he added.
Inhofe used Armendariz comments to announce that he has launched an investigation into the agency and its handling of three natural gas cases in Parker County, Texas, in Pavilion, Wyoming, and in Dimock, Pennsylvania.
While Armendariz apologized, EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Cynthia Giles asserted that the agency is still committed to ethical enforcement of the law.
“Strong, fair and effective enforcement of the environmental laws passed by Congress is critical to protecting public health and ensuring that all companies, regardless of industry, are playing by the same rules,” she said in comments provided to TheDC. “Enforcement is essential to the effectiveness of our environmental laws, ensuring that public health is protected and that companies that play by the rules are not at a disadvantage. The same holds true for companies involved in responsible and safe development of our nation’s domestic energy resources.”