New EPA Enforcement Method: Political Crucifixion of Oil and Gas Companies

Russ Steele

This video came in over the e-mail transom:

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) took to the Senate floor today to draw attention to a video of a top EPA official saying the EPA’s “philosophy” is to “crucify” and “make examples” of oil and gas companies – just as the Romans crucified random citizens in areas they conquered to ensure obedience.

Inhofe quoted a little-watched video from 2010 of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official, Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz, admitting that EPA’s “general philosophy” is to “crucify” and “make examples” of oil and gas companies.

The audio in this video is a bit weak, Administrator Armendariz says:

“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:

“It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean.  They’d go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them.

“Then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”

“It’s a deterrent factor,” Armendariz said, explaining that the EPA is following the Romans’ philosophy for subjugating conquered villages.

Soon after Armendariz touted the EPA’s “philosophy,” the EPA began smear campaigns against natural gas producers, Inhofe’s office noted in advance of today’s Senate speech:

“Not long after Administrator Armendariz made these comments in 2010, EPA targeted US natural gas producers in Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming.

“In all three of these cases, EPA initially made headline-grabbing statements either insinuating or proclaiming outright that the use of hydraulic fracturing by American energy producers was the cause of water contamination, but in each case their comments were premature at best – and despite their most valiant efforts, they have been unable to find any sound scientific evidence to make this link.”

In his Senate speech, Sen. Inhofe said the video provides Americans with “a glimpse of the Obama administration’s true agenda.”

That agenda, Inhofe said, is to “incite fear” in the public with unsubstantiated claims and “intimidate” oil and gas companies with threats of unjustified fines and penalties – then, quietly backtrack once the public’s perception has been firmly jaded against oil and natural gas.

This how the Obama administration leads, by fear and intimidation. Comply,  or be crushed. Do we need four mores of this?

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About Russ Steele
Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.

41 Responses to New EPA Enforcement Method: Political Crucifixion of Oil and Gas Companies

  1. stevefrisch says:

    Classic example of you guys taking someones comments, selectively quoting them, and misrepresenting the point. Many section of what Mr. Armendariz said in the video were not quoted in this report. I would encourage readers to listen to the video and note what was left out. Perhaps using a Roman analogy is a poor choice, but the basic philosophy, that regulators enforce laws by finding the egregious violations and making an example of them so an entire industry will understand that it is more economically efficient to follow the law, is absolutely accurate. The same could be said of criminal law; we find the violators and prosecute them to make an example of the costs of violating social and moral norms to the broader society. As a matter of fact that is the ideological rights rationale on the death penalty; that it acts a deterrent. What would you have them do, not follow the law? Your beef here is with the law, not the regulator. And by quoting it inaccurately you weaken your case.

    • Thank you SteveF for exposing your warped view on government regulators. According to you a regulator can make a presentation on his job and fellow fascists can parse his words and carve out the holocaust from the rest of the statements. We do appreciate your ability to carve out a crucifixion from little puppies and candy.

      • stevefrisch says:

        Typical response from Todd: enforce the laws we like and evade the laws we don’t like. Just goes to show you how supportive of our constitutional system of government he is.

      • So you are the Roman eh? What does unification mean to an atheist anyway? I think you may be a fascist SteveF. Defending the fellow in the video is despicable. Shame on you.

      • stevefrisch says:

        Fascists support unequal application of the laws in my book…that would be you guys. What would you have them do, not enforce the law?

      • Russ says:

        Steve and Todd, stop bashing each other and get back to the issues and the science.

      • No SteveF, you are the poster child for the fascist. You support crucifixion and have admitted it. Now you need to support your words. Don’t try the liberal obfuscation of trying to redirect. Got ya bub!

      • Russ says:

        Steve and Todd, let’s get back to the science and stop bashing each other.

      • stevefrisch says:

        Yeah, the science, like cheery picking quotes from a video of an employee telling a story with a poorly thought out example, and using it to say “This how the Obama administration leads, by fear and intimidation. Comply, or be crushed.”

        Science.

      • stevefrisch says:

        Seems to me the person who pulled out the “fascist” word here was Todd.

      • ggoodknight says:

        What dissemination!

        “Yeah, the science, like cheery picking quotes from a video of an employee”

        The ’employee’ was a high level EPA administrator in charge of a multistate area, including Inhofe’s OK.

        “telling a story with a poorly thought out example”
        He made it clear he’d used the example in the past, so it would seem it was well thought out over a period of years.

        “and using it to say “This how the Obama administration leads, by fear and intimidation. Comply, or be crushed.”

        Yes, that’s the message. Loud and clear. Crucifixion just screams fear and intimidation, doesn’t it?

      • stevefrisch says:

        Look Greg, I was replying to Russ admonishing to get back on track. The person who took us off track was Todd who called me a fascist. Russ, and others, roundly ignore name calling on behalf of their friends and engage in themselves when they call people communists, fascists, socialists and more.

  2. Here is an example of the EPA’s economic and political terror, which they claim is “ethical enforcement.”

    . . . just ask the Sacketts about the EPA’s idea of “ethical enforcement.”  They ruled that the land that the Sacketts bought were wetlands after the Sacketts starting building a house on residential-zoned land even though it had not been classified as such beforehand, and then refused to allow them to access the court system without paying tens of thousands of dollars each day that they delayed the EPA’s mandated abatement.  The Supreme Court hit the EPA with a unanimous smackdown on a process which could only be called a financial crucifixion of the Sacketts, and a lesson to everyone else — just as Armendariz described in the video.

  3. This video is going viral, it was discussed on Rush Limbaugh and Tom Sullivan is discussing it right now. It was on Fox News this morning. Will see if it make the evening news, as the question was asked at the White House if this was the WH policy. Lots of sources are playing the Obama tape from the San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board meeting when he said that he would bankrupt coal power plants and the coal industry.

    Mr. Armendariz is a political appointee, he is carrying out the regulatory philosophy that is being espoused by his boss, to destroy the fossil fuel industry in America. I am sure that you remember this video: http://wp.me/p1NUuI-Hx

    • ggoodknight says:

      I don’t listen to limbaugh much, Sullivan yes (I flew into Marysville once and heard his voice, he was flying his Baron), but Larry Kudlow had good coverage on the Kudlow Report, including Inhofe in studio.

      This video will be a gift that keeps giving. There’s just no spinning random crucifixions into anything other than what it is.

      • ggoodknight says:

        From the EPA website:

        “Al Armendariz was appointed by President Obama on November 5, 2009, as the Regional Administrator for EPA’s Region 6 office in Dallas. He is responsible for managing Agency activities in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and 66 tribal nations, under the direction of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

        Dr. Armendariz has brought a deep commitment to environmental issues to his work at EPA. He has made working with communities a priority…”

        Yep, like those Turkish villages that witnessed the power of Rome!

        Just an employee? What a load, Steve, you’ve really stretched your usual low standards even lower!

  4. D. King says:

    May I humbly recommend a replacement for Al Armendariz?

    I believe this gentleman will be up to the high standards of the EPA.

    http://tinyurl.com/ygbq9qf

    • stevefrisch says:

      Science….like comparing an EPA staffer to Vlad the impaler.

      • D. King says:

        He is NOT a staffer!

        He is a political appointee, you know, agenda driven.

        Al Armendariz was appointed by President Obama on November 5, 2009, as the Regional Administrator for EPA’s Region 6 office in Dallas. He is responsible for managing Agency activities in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and 66 tribal nations, under the direction of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

        http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/region6ra.html

      • ggoodknight says:

        Sorry DK, I didn’t see you’d found the same quote.

        Yep, just a staffer. A Ph.D. reporting directly to his Cabinet level boss, appointed to the position by the President himself.

  5. Being home today I have een watching TV and the video is everywhere. I am watching CSPAN live as I write this and Ted Poe from Texas 2 is excoriating the EPA fellow and the Crucifixion. These things go viral and rightly so. If Frisch wants to defend this, have at it.

  6. Arthur M. Day. says:

    What Mr. Frisch has yet to notice or aknowledge is that the EPA could not support it’s claim with any science and a Court of Law had to throw their case back in their fascist faces. To paraphrase an ancient piece of folk knowledge: It is better to keep silent and have your integrity in question than to open it and remove all doubt.

  7. D. King says:

    Arthur,

    Here is Senator James M. Inhofe making that very point; along with many others!

    This video is 29 minutes long.

    • Dixon Cruickshank says:

      Steve an EPA staffer is actually an EPA staffer -just say’in – actually one that was over 5 states so a pretty big staffer shall we say. Say just if – that same thought process was then brought down to lower staffer’s per-se, which him being a head of 5 states, sounds kinda logical – sounds like your arguement is again very very lame – which is not really new either

      Are you really saying that EPA employee’s do not follow their supervisors orders ?? and really just follow their hearts and only prosecute the people THEY think are doing bad things

  8. ggoodknight says:

    Frisch, we’re all still waiting for you to get to the science you wanted to talk about, but somehow just didn’t finish.

    YOU were the one who keeps insisting on discussing the science while never managing to do so. Now we have Lovelock backpedaling and Svensmark including evolution rates in the GCR story. The science I saw flowing when I went from lukewarmer to skeptic to scoffer five years ago keeps solidifying.

    Frisch. Science. Give it a try.

  9. ggoodknight says:

    There really isn’t any upside to the video for the Obama administration. There is nothing taken out of context: there is NO justification for an EPA administrator to liken his strategy to Romans crucifying random civilians just to show the power of Rome to scare villagers. The message was clear, it wasn’t about fairness, it is about the wielding of power.

    The fact that it was an administrator in Inhofe’s back yard rather than Reid, Boxer and Feinsteins means it isn’t going to be swept under the rug. The guy has apparently apologized but I suspect he’ll be history very soon.

    • stevefrisch says:

      I suspect he will be history soon too, but that does not mean that what he said is inaccurate. The very nature of regulation is that penalties imposed on violators acts as a deterent to others. It is the same rstionale that works in the criminal justice system for almost everyone that posts here. Why would it be any different in the civil realm? The incondistency of the positions held by posters on this blog is stunning.

      By the way, I will post on the scientific papers you mentioned, but I do have a job you know. One paper has led to three others, and the going is not immediate. I am not in the habit of relying on off the cuff remarks to support my positions, like some I know. 🙂

      • SteveF, Did the KGB or the Gestapo rely on the rule of law? You are a misguided soul in awe of government power, nothing more.

      • stevefrisch says:

        See this is how you guys tear down America every single day. The United States is not the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. The EPA is enforcing a duly created body of law created by a democratically elected congress with authority given to the executive branch to implement. That body of law was signed off on by the executive branch for the last 40 yers, and continuously tested in courts of law for its constitutionality. If you want to change the law, there is a way o do that. Yet you, and others here, insist on using individual examples of excess or poorly chosen analogy to condemn and demonize an entire system of law, and imply to the people that it is tyranny. That is a fundamentally un-democratic position to take. To compare this administration to the USSR or the Nazi’s is disguising. And it strikes at the very heart of a democratic system. You are in essence saying, “if I agree with the law it is just, if I disagree with the law it is fascism.”. If everyone followed your example our nation would cease to exist in about a week.

        It is the very same thing as George saying, “I am a constitutionalist” then saying the jury system is too incompetent or ignorant to delivery a just verdict. On the one hand you claim patriotism on the other you say the very system of governance you say you are protecting is worthless. Do you Telly think people o not see the inconsistency in this and don’t know that you are not patriots, but rather dangerous radical who seek to destroy our democratic system?

      • ggoodknight says:

        Deterrents like the orders the EPA issued to the Sacketts? That even had Sotomayor and Ginsburg voting with Scalia against the EPA just last month, a 9-0 case:
        “The justices unanimously rejected the government’s position that individuals or companies must first fail to comply with an EPA order and face potentially costly enforcement action before a court can review the case.

        The opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia was a victory for an Idaho couple who challenged a 2007 EPA order that required them to restore a wetland they had filled with dirt and rock as they began to build a new vacation home near Priest Lake. They were also told to stop construction on the home.

        The couple, Chantell and Michael Sackett, denied their property had ever contained a wetland and complained they were being forced to comply with an order without a court hearing.”

        Scalia said the Clean Water Act was not “uniquely designed to enable the strong-arming of regulated parties into ‘voluntary compliance’ without the opportunity for judicial review.”

        This is the EPA.

        You are off the cuff on this one, Steve.

  10. What do all of us think SteveF would say if a Bush political appointee in the IRS said the same thing about non-profits like SBC? We will crucify the lying thieves and frack them says the IRS! Me thinks there would be wailing and gnashing of teeth by the F man.

    • stevefrisch says:

      Todd, any IRS employee coming in and looking at my books would find that SBC is in 100% compliance with the law, so I really would not care. The last thing I am worried about is an audit. I do a third party audit, completed under penalty of perjury, every single year. It is reviewed by an audit committee and signed off on by more than 15 people. Any attempt at skirting IRS rules would be pretty quickly ferreted out. No wailing or gnashing of teeth here. Can you say the same of your books? Did you business books undergo even a quarter of the transparency my nonprofit ones do? No way!

      • That is not the point SteveF. If the IRS regional fellow/gal decided to harass you as the EPA guy was doing to the oil and gas industry, the veracity of your books would not matter (pick a random five men to murder). That is the point. My guess is you would be wailing, “oh my, the IRS is picking on me and my books are just fine”! What the heck? When you are risking your own money you would be joining us in the outrage. I have never had an audit in my whole life because I do the right thing. I would guess you may have been audited when you owned the Passage Restaurant? It is not pleasant I am assuming?

      • stevefrisch says:

        Clearly you don’t know what an independent third party unit is, since you lack experience in business.

        You have something to say about the Passage go ahead. I have never hidden anything, nor have I done anything to be ashamed of. When I owed back taxes I worked the next 8 years to pay them off, and did not bitch about how the government screwed me, or become a rabid, right wing, anti-government kook or anti-tax activist. I did the right thing, and I am proud of that.

      • You apparently are unable to grasp the point of the video which is the topic here. If as you say you are proud of your business acumen regarding back payroll/property/inventory taxes you owed and became liened by all levels of government then all can see the twisted logic from a liberal mind. No, if you were the focus, unjustly, of the IRS for being simply a law abiding business owner because they wanted to make an example of you by crucifying you, you perhaps would get the message the video is speaking about. If you were actually doing something wrong though, like not paying your taxes and were caught, then the video is meaningless as an example. Is that the issue?

      • ggoodknight says:

        Any IRS examiner with a bee up their bonnet could go through the SBC books and make a prima facie case of illegality on some fine point of tax law.

        Regulatory crucifixion. What a concept. Let’s bring back decimation, too.

  11. stevefrisch says:

    By the way, perhaps all of you guys should look up the words ’employee’ and ‘staff’. I doubt anyone at EPA or the White House said, “hey, why don’t you go out and compare us enforcing our legal enforcement of established law, passed by congress, and signed into law by both Republican and Democratic Presidents, as crucifixion.”. The equating of one mans poor choice of words to a national policy is nonsense.

    • Poor choice of words SteveF? No, he told us in the video this was his Philosophy. No mincing words there. This man is a Professor for goodness sakes. I can only believe what he said in the video from his own mouth. This guy is a liberal eco nut with a little power and we see what happens when these nuts get a little power. I had to deal with this kind of person when I was a Supervisor. They are wimps until they are given a little power then watchout.

  12. stevefrisch says:

    I notice that you evaded the point that the words staff and employee do mean something, and that my use of them was consistent with their definition.

    The point remains, and as usual, you did not address it.

    • ggoodknight says:

      Your use of the word was an obvious intent to minimize the stature of Dr.Armendariz. Just a staffer.

      He’s a political appointee who wasn’t there to play softball. It was hardball, and he was pitching fastballs to the heads the players up to bat to make sure they learned to flinch when he was on the mound.

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