The resignation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 6 administrator does not change the institutional problem with the agency’s enforcement philosophy, Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe told The Daily Caller on Monday.
The ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works said that while it was right for Al Armendariz to resign in the wake of his comments positively comparing oil and gas regulation enforcement to Roman crucifixions, the EPA, under President Barack Obama, still has a problem with how it treats America’s energy producers.
“It is not just Armendariz. There are a lot of other Armendarizes around,” Inhofe told TheDC, explaining the problem has not been solved with the Region 6 administrator’s exit.
“We watch these guys. We get the complaints from people who are being run out of business by the EPA, and he’s one but there are several others also,” he said.
Inhofe added that his investigation into the manner the EPA dealings with oil and gas companies — particularly those engaged in hydraulic fracturing — will continue.
The Oklahoma senator’s investigation will include a look into how the EPA treated Range Resources — the Fort Worth-based drilling company that the EPA imposed an expensive emergency order on alleging water contamination on the part of the company, only to withdraw the order 15 months later. He noted, however, that there are many companies that have not been able to fight the EPA’s mandates.
“The big question nobody talks about is, what about all those companies that didn’t fight it? ‘$33,000 a day? I’m out of business.’ How many companies today are out of business because they just couldn’t stand up to them?” he said. (RELATED: ‘Crucify’ EPA administrator resigns)
Facing an institutional problem, Inhofe said the way to change it is through the ballot box.
“The solution is to have a Republican majority in the House and Senate and to defeat Obama out of the White House. It is going to be difficult. Even though I am certain we will have a Republican majority in the House and Senate, it will not be a veto-proof majority and so it is important that we defeat Obama,” he said, noting that the current White House occupant is “someone who is trying to regulate people out of business.”
Inhofe added that the next Region 6 administrator should have a proven record of support for business and industry and that he will be watching who the president appoints very closely.
More than half of the representatives from the states in Region 6 had called for Armendariz to leave by the time of his resignation. The calls for him to step down came in the wake of a speech Inhofe gave on the Senate floor highlighting Armendariz’s crucifixion comments.
“I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement,” Armendariz had said, ”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,” Armendariz continued. “They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d 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.”
Inhofe added that one positive has been an increased awareness of the detriment of overregulation.