WASHINGTON – Rep. Cory Gardner wants a high-ranking Environmental Protection Agency official to testify before Congress about his comment that the agency had a “crucify them” strategy toward oil and gas companies.
The Fort Collins Republican said he thinks Dr. Alfredo Armendariz, the administrator of EPA’s region 6, should appear before Congress “to explain his position … that equates every oil and gas company with being a criminal.”
Gardner said Armendariz’s remark typified the EPA’s attitude toward industry. “They don’t take into account how regulations will affect their business. I hear (complaints of overreach) all the time — from energy companies, manufacturers, business people,” he said in an interview Thursday.
Gardner stopped short of calling for Armendariz’s resignation but said he wants the EPA official to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which he sits on. He added that he discussed the remarks over lunch Thursday with members of an Energy and Commerce subcommittee.
Armendariz’s comments from 2010 were caught on tape at an EPA conference in Texas. “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.
He added, “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 … So, that’s our general philosophy.”
Armendariz has apologized for his comments, according to media reports. Appointed by President Obama in November 2009, Armendariz has sought to work with communities “most vulnerable to harm from polluters,” according to the EPA’s website. The region over which he presides includes Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), said in a statement he plans to launch an oversight investigation into the EPA’s treatment of natural gas producers in Texas, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania shortly after Armendariz made his comments. Inhofe said in each of the cases, the EPA made comments that suggested or stated that producers’ use of hydraulic fracturing had contaminated water supplies without scientific evidence.
Calls to the EPA were not returned.