EPA Official Resigns Over 'Crucify' Comment
A top administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency has resigned over a YouTube video of a 2010 speech in which he vowed to "crucify" energy companies.
Al Armendariz was the Obama administration's head EPA official in the oil-rich South Central region of the United States. He was appointed by President Obama in 2009.
In the video, Armendariz says he believes in doing what the Romans did to create an environment of fear, "crucifying" some companies to make examples of them.
The case gained publicity after Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe (R) showed that video on the Senate floor. Inhofe has blasted the EPA for advancing what he calls a "war on domestic energy."
Republicans in Congress called for Armendariz' firing after Inhofe highlighted the May 2010 speech last week. Inhofe said it's proof of what he refers to as EPA's assault on energy, particularly the technique of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Armendariz said he regrets his words and stressed that they do not reflect his work as administrator of the region that includes Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
But Armendariz was involved in several disputed contamination cases in Texas which stoked environmental concerns over fracking. That technique involves injecting water, chemicals and sand underground at high pressures to fracture rock and release trapped natural gas.
In one case in 2010, the EPA issued an emergency order accusing the Texas drilling company, Range Resources, of contaminating an aquifer west of Fort Worth. The EPA gave that company 48 hours to provide clean drinking water to residents.
Armendariz bypassed the state to issue that demand. He said he did it because Texas officials were not responding quickly enough. But the order later was withdrawn after a state court ruled evidence that fracking had caused the contamination had been falsified.
Cases like that one prompted more than two dozen lawmakers to send a letter to Jackson on Friday, calling for Armendariz' firing. They argued, "He was flat wrong."