Former EPA ‘crucify them’ administrator avoids testifying before House panel

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The official who compared the Environmental Protection Agency’s enforcement philosophy to Roman crucifixions will not make a planned appearance before a House panel to explain his comments.

The former EPA Region 6 Administrator, Al Armendariz, had been scheduled to appear Wednesday morning before a House Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing, titled “EPA Enforcement Priorities and Practices.” But on Tuesday afternoon, counsel representing Armendariz notified the committee that he will not be appearing.

Armendariz resigned his post in late April following a Senate floor presentation in which Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe replayed comments he made in 2010 describing his view of EPA’s enforcement policies.

“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.”

He apologized and resigned shortly after his comments came to light.

“We are extremely disappointed to hear Dr. Armendariz will no longer be testifying at our hearing tomorrow,” Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, both Republicans, said in a joint statement. “Congress and the American people deserve an explanation for the outrageous comments suggesting EPA should ‘crucify’ American energy companies, as well as a fuller understanding of EPA’s actual enforcement priorities and practices that are creating a hostile regulatory environment.”

According to the pair the hearing, focused on EPA’s enforcement policies, will continue without the former administrator.

“President Obama’s EPA has established a record of abuse in its policies and enforcement practices,” the two added. “Tomorrow’s hearing will continue without Armendariz, and we expect compelling testimony from the other witnesses describing concerns with EPA’s aggressive enforcement and regulatory actions.”

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