Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz has resigned after a video surfaced in which he said his approach to dealing with those who violate regulations was to make an example of a few in order to keep the many in line. Specifically, his use of the term “crucify” created the most controversy. Here’s a portion of what he said in the video:
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.
And so you make examples out of people who are in this case not compliant with the law. Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there. And, companies that are smart see that, they don’t want to play that game, and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up.
According to a report at Slate.com, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe’s office found the footage, which is from 2010, and publicized it. Conservative media seized upon the quotes as proof that the EPA, and ultimately Obama, are out to get oil and gas companies.
The Slate story, though, points out that such critics unfairly characterized the remarks as directed against the whole industry, when Armendariz was only speaking about cracking down on companies that break the law.
In a letter sent to friends and colleagues (and printed in the Dallas Morning News), Armendariz said that the decision to resign was his own, and that he is proud of the EPA’s achievements. “I leave with an incredible sense of pride for the things the Agency accomplished and it was fantastic to be a part of the effort,” he wrote. “Administrator [Lisa] Jackson has overseen a renaissance in the Agency and it is again the global leader in environmental protection. President Obama has been incredibly supportive of me and my work and the Agency. He’ll undoubtedly go down as the most environmental president we have ever had.”
Armendariz was administrator for EPA Region 6, which covers Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, and includes land belonging to 66 Tribal Nations. According to the Daily Caller, 29 of the 42 Congressmen who represent the area signed a letter calling for his resignation.
The video of his 2010 remarks is below: