Opinion: Columnists

EPA's crucifixion expert lands a new job

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Alfredo Armendariz was director of the Environmental Protection Agency's Region 6 -- Texas and four surrounding states -- when Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., unveiled a 2010 video of him saying his policy was analogous to ancient Romans overtaking villages: They would crucify the first five men they saw as an example to potential lawbreakers.

The EPA does the same, said regional director Al; its philosophy is to crucify companies to make examples for potentially noncompliant fossil fuel producers. The video -- and the outrage -- went viral. Director Al resigned.

Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, facetiously surmised that when Armendariz skipped his testimony to explain things to a House committee, it was for a job interview at the Sierra Club. As it turns out, his joke was prescient.

Last week, Inhofe lampooned Armendariz, a Ph.D. in environmental engineering, in a news release: "I would like to congratulate Dr. Armendariz for his new job as a key player in the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. I was, however, surprised not to have been asked to provide a reference -- I would have been happy to tell the Sierra Club about his steadfast commitment to regulating fossil fuels out of existence."

For example, Armendariz tried to crucify Range Resources, a Fort Worth-based natural gas driller. A federal court slapped him down after he issued an emergency order falsely accusing Range of contaminating groundwater with its drilling in Parker County, Texas.

Inhofe added, "Dr. Armendariz follows numerous Obama administration officials who have come from or moved to radical left and green groups. Several EPA officials have publicly admitted that they are working hand and glove with far left green groups to end fossil fuel development in America."

Revolving doors are one thing; collusion is another. There should be no question about the impartiality of EPA regulators, but there is. It's fair to ask whether "Crucifyin' Al" was working for the Sierra Club while still on the EPA payroll. What about the dollar costs of this backdoor power stream?

I asked the senator about his investigations into the Obama "Ignore Congress" policy and its costs. "All the things this administration has gone after had already been rejected by Congress, such as cap and trade," Inhofe told me. "We have identified $68.4 billion that the Obama administration has spent just on climate regulations. Looking at Obama's total budget items that were not authorized legislatively, we can identify $5.3 trillion."

The Obama EPA is also afflicted with "defiant noncompliance" -- the arrogant refusal to comply with congressional requests in order to benefit Big Green agendas.

Another example: Alaska's multibillion-dollar Pebble Mine. In May, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, asked EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to provide all the documentation that went into her unprecedented campaign to deny the Pebble Mine developers the right to make their case by preparing for a pre-emptive veto. Issa specifically asked for "a list of all individuals ... you have met with regarding [the veto]." Jackson ignored Issa's request.

Of this, Inhofe said, "Environmental groups have swarmed into Alaska, corrupting the facts on the Pebble Mine." That fight could be the next big one. As I noted in an earlier column, Jackson had given anti-mine groups -- Trout Unlimited, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Earthworks -- privileged treatment during an Alaska tour, but wouldn't visit representatives of the Native Alaskan village corporation Iliamna, which support the mine. She snubbed them again when they came to Washington to see her.

Once you lose faith in the impartiality of regulators, every action they take is tainted.

Examiner Columnist Ron Arnold is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.

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