Politics

Senator opens inquiry into EPA’s armed visit to NC man’s home

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

An Asheville, N.C. man has enlisted the aid of North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr to investigate a visit he received from two armed Environmental Protection Agency officials and a local police officer.

Burr has been in touch with the man and started an inquiry into the incident with EPA.

According to the Ashville Citizen-Times, Larry Keller claims the EPA targeted him after he sent an email on April 27 to former EPA Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz, who resigned on April 30 over comments he made comparing the administration’s enforcement policy to Roman crucifixions. (RELATED: Complete coverage of the Al Armendariz scandal)

The letter to an EPA external affairs director read simply, “Do you have Mr. Armendariz’s contact information so we can say hello? – Regards- Larry Keller.”

“I wanted to know why someone in his position would say what he did. I wanted to question his reasoning and principles. It’s all about freedom of speech,” Keller told The Carolina Journal.

The agents visited Keller on May 2, two days after Armendariz resigned.

Keller is not convinced the matter is over, and he wants a full explanation. But the Journal reported that Patrick Sullivan, the EPA’s assistant inspector general, does not believe there was “any unprofessional behavior” by Office of Inspector General personnel, and that Keller “answered the questions and the suspicious nature of the email was resolved.”

Fox News Channel reported that the EPA has invited Keller to come to Washington. The Asheville man, however, is unwilling until he has a full understanding of what the EPA wants to discuss.

“The charter of the EPA is to protect the environment and public, not to act as a quasi federal police department,” Keller told Fox News on Saturday.

In late April on the Senate floor, Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe highlighted video of Armendariz, then the Region 6 Administrator, explaining EPA’s heavy-handed approach to enforcement. That video brought about Armendariz’s resignation just days later.

“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 in the video footage.

“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. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”

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