Home > Frac > The EPA as a Roman Soldier:Crucify the O&G Companies!..and FIRE Dr. Al Armendariz

The EPA as a Roman Soldier:Crucify the O&G Companies!..and FIRE Dr. Al Armendariz

April 26, 2012

In 2010 Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz said

“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’m going to tell you what I said,…It is kind of like how the Romans used to conquer the villages in the Mediterranean — they’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere and they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them. Then that town was really easy to manage for the next few years… And so, you make examples out of people who are, in this case, not complying with the law. You find people who are not complying with the law and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them. There’s 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. And that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people.”

I think it was probably a little crude as well. As a matter of fact, I think it was a lot of crude as is all prompting to regulate in terms of the most horrific means of execution ever invented by a military dictatorship solely for the purpose of overstating a point which could have easily been expressed by saying “Make the irresponsible organizations pay so that there is no motivation to be lax in their safety practices.”

In a culture where certain words can set off large groups of people into tirades dealing entirely with the insensitivity of expressed comments, a “crucifixion” analogy related to Dr. Armendariz’s “philosophy on enforcement” could not have communicated more clearly.

Dr. Armendariz is a full grown adult. He knows that he is responsible for the words that come out of his mouth and he knows exactly what his overstatement was intended to imply. Fire for effect.

The EPA will do its best to back-pedal from the Mr. Armendariz’s words as did the White House.

EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Cynthia Giles said, “Strong, fair and effective enforcement of the environmental laws passed by Congress is critical to protecting public health and ensuring that all companies, regardless of industry, are playing by the same rules. Enforcement is essential to the effectiveness of our environmental laws, ensuring that public health is protected and that companies that play by the rules are not at a disadvantage,” .

No, they’re not at a disadvantage…unless of course those in positions of power in regulatory government agencies have no qualms about making examples out of O&G companies and no problem with comparing their “fair and effective enforcement” with a strategy that “crucifies” O&G companies similar to the way that Roman Soldiers crucified Turkish villagers for the purpose of forcing them into their brand of compliance. I believe Dr. Armendariz’s words were,

they’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere and they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them. Then that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”

In context, this isn’t the first time that Armendariz has lacked objectivity and a commitment to data. As a matter of fact, I believe Dr. Armendariz relishes in what he believe will be the failings or shortcomings of O&G companies.

To put it bluntly: The White House’s statement, that Dr. Armendariz’s statements were not accurate in a document-able fashion is simply not accurate. The White House often points to the fact that O&G production is at an all time high but it also selectively chooses to present that information. As Industry continues to contend: increased production has happened in spite of this administration, not because of it.

Dr. Armendariz’s position does not allow him to be an environmentalist. I think this is where the failure of the current EPA and this administration is the most evident. Environmental regulators who are environmentalists like Dr. Almendariz lend themselves to emotional actions and statements rather than unbiased response to scientific data.

In this email to TX Sharon (Sharon Wilson, a staunch and out-spoken anti-hydraulic fracturing advocate in Texas) Armendariz says,

Hi Everybody,

We’re about to make a lot of news. The first story has already been printed. There’ll be an official
press release in a few minutes. Also, time to Tivo channel 8. Bug David for more info.

http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/EPA-orders–111474704.html

Makes me think about the first time I saw a FLIR camera video years ago on Jeremy’s website
from a Colorado investigation, or when I first appreciated the magnitude of poor fluid
management practices from pictures and video on Sharon’s blog.
Thank you both for helping to educate me on the public’s perspective of these issues. And thank
you all for your continued support and friendship.

Its been a crazy few days.
Best always,

Al

“Also, time to Tivo Channel 8”…in other words “Hey environmentalist friends, you may want to record this! We are about to crucify Range Resources!”

What in the world should an EPA administrator have to do with reporting official EPA rulings to environmentalists outside of the US government?

To add insult to injury, the “crucifixion” of the random “five guys” seems to be reflective of EPA practice. Energy In Depth’s write-up about this correspondence and the Range Resources actions are recorded here.

Armendariz is the poster child for what is wrong with the EPA and through their inaction, the White House. Armendariz was both flippant and arrogant and fully aware of the lack of accountability in which his agency operates.

And although the White House would condemn the Almendariz’s comments, EPA’s method of dealing with water contamination in Texas, Wyoming and Pennsylvania is the documented proof that the White House says is missing.

Based solely on the EPA’s actions and memos, what the White House said is a statement that lacks proof.

According to a memo written by EPA scientist Dr. Doug Beak (on EPA’s dealings with Range Resources)

“[T]his is not conclusive evidence because of the limited data set,”  (p. 271). “The only way now to compare the data would be to make assumptions to fill in data gaps and I don’t believe we have enough experience at this site or data to do this at this time.”

This is not the EPA’s only mistake. They also abandoned their own SOPs in the case in Pavilion, WY and went back and forth on their call concerning Dimock, PA and Cabot’s delivery of water.

The study in Pavilion begged questions partly because EPA could not replicate their results.

If the White House is willing to argue that the position of the EPA is not one wherein the agency looks to make examples out of industry and that they stand behind practices where faulty science is acceptable, what message does that send to those in Industry? What message does it send to the public.

I disagree with the White House. Dr. Armendariz’s apology is not sufficient. An apology married with the actions of the EPA does not make up for what is a glaring communication of their poor method. There is no guarantee that, by his apology, that his “philosophy of enforcement”, as he called it, has changed in the least. His enforcement practices are actually proven by the EPA’s reckless press releases and actions.

Fire Dr. Al Armendariz.

It’s the only chance region 6 (a 5 state region) has of allowing scientific data to determine policy.

 

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