Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe will be introducing legislation on Wednesday to require that all regional administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency be confirmed by the Senate.
The “EPA Regional Oversight Act of 2012” follows the late April resignation of Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz for comments he made in 2010 — which Inhofe brought to the public’s attention for the first time during an April 25 floor speech — when Armendariz compared his philosophy of oil and gas company enforcement to Roman crucifixions.
“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 at the time. “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,” he explained. “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.”
Shortly after his speech was made public, Armendariz apologized. He resigned days later.
Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, however, has stated that Armendariz comments relayed a larger philosophy within the agency and that Armendariz is just one of many with a similar view of environmental enforcement at the EPA.
“It is not just Armendariz,” Inhofe told TheDC after Armendariz’s resignation. ”There are a lot of other Armendarizes around.”
Inhofe went on to explain that the philosophical problem will persist despite the Region 6 administrator’s adieu.
“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,” Inhofe said.
“EPA Regional Oversight Act of 2012” will require that the president appoint the EPA’s regional administrators “by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.”
Should the legislation pass, the regional administrators that have not been approved by the Senate will be allowed to continue to serve at their posts until the Jan. 1, 2013.