EPA Region 6 chief resigns over 2010 'crucifixion' remark

Al Armendariz, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 6 administrator in Dallas, resigned effective Apr. 30 after apologizing 4 days earlier for a 2010 videotaped remark comparing his enforcement philosophy to an ancient Roman army invading a village and crucifying a few leaders to bring everyone else into line.

“I apologize to those I have offended and regret my poor choice of words,” he said in an Apr. 26 statement. “It was an offensive and inaccurate way to portray our efforts to address potential violations of our nation’s environmental laws. I am and have always been committed to fair and vigorous enforcement of those laws.”

In his Apr. 29 resignation letter to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Armendariz said the comments did not reflect his work as administrator in an EPA district with a significant amount of the nation’s oil and gas production, or Jackson’s work leading the federal environmental regulatory agency.

“While I feel there is much work that remains to be done for the people of this country in the region that I serve, after a great deal of thought and careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that my continued service will distract you and the agency from its important work,” he said.

In a statement, Jackson said she accepted Armendariz’s resignation, respected his difficult decision, and thanked him for his service to EPA and the country. Critics said his resignation was necessary, but added that it does not solve deeper problems at the agency.

Words revealed truth

“In his letter to Administrator Jackson, Armendariz again pointed to his 'poor choice of words' as the reason for his resignation—but Armendariz was just being honest: His choice of words revealed the truth about the war that EPA has been waging on American energy producers under President [Barack] Obama,” said US Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), the Environment and Public Works Committee’s ranking minority member, who discovered and circulated the video last week.

Inhofe said EPA regional offices in Wyoming and Pennsylvania, in addition to the Region 6 office in Dallas, which Armendariz led, prematurely linked water contamination to natural gas production operations in the last 2 years before retracting the allegations several months later. Inhofe said he will continue an investigation of the matter that he launched on Apr. 25.

US Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-Tex.), a House Energy and Commerce Committee member who had called for Armendariz’s firing, said the public expects an effective and professional approach to address air quality and water supply concerns instead of scare tactics.

He suggested that the next EPA Region 6 administrator should, among other things, encourage full reviews and objective studies by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the State Health Services Department; provide support for environmental and industry groups offering public comments prior to proposed TCEQ natural gas drilling permit regulations; work with local officials to address community concerns surrounding increased energy production in residential communities, including DISH and Flower Mound; support municipal governments’ oil and gas permitting, siting, and production decisions within their localities; and work with the Texas Railroad Commission on specific well water clarity complaints.

Keep focus on abuses

Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman welcomed the news, but said it was only a first step toward reforming EPA’s policies. “I will not allow the Obama administration to use this resignation to shift the focus away from the EPA's abuses,” he said on Apr. 30.

Alex Mills, president of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, told OGJ by phone on Apr. 30: “This is a very serious attitude of a bureaucrat that he needs to instill fear into the public to get it to follow laws and regulations. That’s scary. We’ve called upon members of Congress to investigate and see if this is an isolated incident, or the prevailing attitudes at EPA and throughout the federal government. It doesn’t happen that way in Texas, where agencies uphold the state’s laws and regulations. They don’t try to bully people and make examples of them.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

Statoil reduces capital budget by $2 billion following 4Q losses

02/06/2015 Statoil ASA has reduced its organic capital expenditure to $18 billion in 2015 from $20 billion in 2014. The move comes on the heels of a fourth qu...

Chinese regulators approve Sinopec’s plan for grassroots refinery

02/06/2015 China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has approved Sinopec Beijing Yanshan Petrochemical Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China Nation...

BOEM schedules public meetings about draft proposed 5-year OCS plan

02/06/2015 The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will hold the first of 20 public meetings in Washington on Feb. 9 to receive public comments on potential ...

Union strike ongoing at US refineries as negotiations continue

02/06/2015 A strike by union workers at nine US refining and petrochemical production plants remains under way as the United Steelworkers Union (USW) continue...

NCOC lets $1.8-billion pipeline contract for Kashagan field

02/06/2015 North Caspian Operating Co. (NCOC) has let a $1.8-billion engineering and construction contract to ERSAI Caspian Contractor LLC, a subsidiary of Sa...

AOPL releases 2015 safety performance and strategic planning report

02/06/2015 The Association of Oil Pipe Lines is committed to further improvements despite a 99.99% safe petroleum liquids delivery rate, AOPL Pres. and Chief ...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil price bounces back up somewhat

02/06/2015 Crude oil prices on the New York market bounced up $2/bbl to settle slightly above $50/bbl Feb. 5. The positive momentum continued during early Jan...

Congressional Republicans renew bid to halt sue-and-settle maneuvers

02/05/2015 Calling it an affront to regulatory accountability that results in unchecked compliance burdens, US Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and US Rep. D...

Oil-price collapse may aggravate producing nations’ other problems

02/05/2015 The recent global crude-oil price plunge could be aggravating underlying problems in Mexico, Colombia, and other Western Hemisphere producing natio...
White Papers

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

When Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Predictive Analytics in your digital oilfield - Optimize Production Yield and Reduce Operational Costs

When Tue, Jul 7, 2015

Putting predictive analytics to work in your oilfield can help you anticipate failures, plan and schedule work in advance, eliminate emergency work and catastrophic failures, and at the same time you can optimize working capital and improve resource utilization.  When you apply analytic capabilities to critical production assets it is possible to reduce non-productive time and increase your yield.

Learn how IBM's analytics capabilities can be applied to critical production assets with the goal of reducing non-productive time, increasing yield and reducing operations costs.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected