WASHINGTON — The regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency resigned Monday amid Republican outcries after a 2010 video surfaced last week in which he insinuated the need to “crucify” lawbreaking oil and gas companies to set examples.
EPA Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz, who oversaw Louisiana, Texas and three other states, resigned in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson because he said he has become a distraction.
“I regret comments I made several years ago that do not in any way reflect my work as regional administrator,” Armendariz wrote.
Louisiana congressmen such as Reps. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia; John Fleming, R-Minden; and Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, were among those who seized on the comments and called for Armendariz to step down.
Landry filed a House resolution on Friday that demanded his resignation.
The issue arose Wednesday when Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., released the old video that contained the controversial comments.
In the video, Armendariz was discussing strategies to bring oil and gas companies that were skirting rules to comply with federal regulations.
He compared the strategies with ancient Roman armies going to conquer small villages and executing the first five people they saw in order to quell the villages into submission.
“And so you make examples out of people who are, in this case, not compliant with the law,” Armendariz said in the video. “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,” he added.
Landry and others used the comments to claim they are “proof the Obama administration wants nothing more than to kill our fossil fuel industry.”
“I hope … Jackson replaces Armendariz with someone who will be proactive in securing our energy independence,” Landry said Monday.
“It’s good he’s resigned, but EPA needs to learn from this and stop attacking American businesses,” Fleming added Monday, after previously taking to the House floor last week to decry the comments and Obama’s “war on energy.”
Last week, Jackson criticized the comments in the video as “inflammatory” and “wrong.”
In an email response Monday, Jackson said she accepted Armendariz’s resignation.
“I respect the difficult decision he made and his wish to avoid distracting from the important work of the agency,” Jackson wrote. “We are all grateful for Dr. Armendariz’s service to EPA and to our nation.”
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