Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe is not buying the mea culpa offered by the EPA official who bragged about the agency’s “crucify them” enforcement philosophy against oil and gas companies.
“His apology was meaningless,” Inhofe told The Daily Caller in a Thursday morning interview.
“You’re going to treat people like the Romans crucified the church? Get real,” he said.
According to Inhoffe, Obama-appointed Region 6 EPA Administrator Al Armendariz’s claim in his apology that the agency is focused on “fair and vigorous enforcement” isn’t supported by the facts.
“We get calls all the time saying ‘the EPA has just put us out of business.’ I always say, ‘send the [EPA’s] letter to me’ because it is a threat letter that is meant to scare them, to intimidate them and that is what they are doing,” Inhofe said.
Inhofe added that Armendariz did not apologize for the EPA wrongly accusing companies — like the Range Resources drilling company in Parker County, Texas — of misdeeds and then quietly withdrawing their complaints when the agency realized they could not withstand a court challenge.
Armendariz apologized Wednesday evening for the language he used in a 2010 speech Inhofe had highlighted on the Senate floor that morning.
“I apologize to those I have offended and regret my poor choice of words,” Armendariz said in a statement provided to TheDC. “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.”
His apology was followed by a restatement of the EPA’s enforcement mission courtesy of EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Cynthia Giles.
“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.”
According to Inhofe, however, the EPA’s actions speak louder than Armendariz’s and Giles’ words.
“Of course they’re not [focused ‘fair and effective enforcement],’” Inhofe said in reaction to Giles’ words. “How can it be fair when they come in and make the accusations without developing the case, without having the evidence, and take enforcement actions that would put the company out of business — when they don’t have the evidence to back that up?”
“Their mission is to put people out of business,” Inhofe added. “Their mission is to kill hydraulic fracturing.”
Inhofe announced Wednesday that he is launching an investigation into the EPA’s tactics — specifically with regard to the Parker County, Texas case as well as cases in Pavilion, Wyoming, and in Dimock, Pennsylvania.
The apology has not deterred Inhofe’s investigation.
“This is all a part of Obama’s war on fossil fuels,” Inhofe added. “He knows he can’t win that war but he can stop hydraulic fracturing which has been safe for over a million applications, there has never been a case of groundwater contamination.”
According to Inhofe, while the president might say good things about oil and gasoline for political purposes the administration is trying to do away with hydraulic fracturing.
“My point is, you can’t get the oil and gas without hydraulic fracturing, but the public doesn’t know that,” he said. “So if they can kill hydraulic fracturing they have successfully killed oil and gasoline production in America.”
The Armendariz speech in question had the EPA official comparing the agency’s enforcement method to that of Roman conquerors.
“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 continued. “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.”