Sen. James M. Inhofe (Okla.), the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said he and his colleagues would continue to investigate any efforts by the EPA to limit the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in which companies extract oil and gas trapped in shale rock.
“After his revelation that EPA’s ‘general philosophy’ is to ‘crucify’ oil and gas companies, it was only right for Administrator Armendariz to resign today — but his resignation in no way solves the problem of President Obama and his EPA’s crucifixion philosophy,” Inhofe said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), Lucy Nashed, echoed Inhofe’s criticism.
“While Al Armendariz’s resignation means there will be one less activist at the EPA, his philosophy unfortunately permeates through the entire agency,” Nashed wrote in an e-mail. “We urge the administration to replace him with someone who will work to protect our natural resources in a way that bolsters the economy, rather than vilifying our nation’s energy producers
and imposing job-killing, high cost mandates that are passed on to consumers.”
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and White House officials last week distanced themselves from Armendariz’s remarks, which came during a 90-minute speech to residents of Dish. Dish is a tiny town north of Dallas where concerns over the environmental effects of fracking have dominated public debate; the EPA has been scrutinizing whether the process of injecting water, sand and chemicals underground at high pressure to let the gas escape may contaminate nearby drinking water supplies.
Armendariz is shown in the video answering a question about enforcement of environmental laws. Noting that the analogy was “crude” and “maybe inappropriate,” he 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 would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”
He then said the same approach could prod companies to obey environmental laws: “You make examples out of people who are not complying with the law.” An audience member posted the speech on YouTube.
Inhofe’s staff found the video and posted a portion on the senator’s Web site.