Energy Committee Warns EPA Official He'll be Hauled in to Testify
Lawmakers warned the head of the EPA's Dallas office that he will soon be invited before a congressional committee -- and warned they'll implement all means available to ensure his appearance -- to answer for a 2010 video in which he talks about "crucifying" oil and gas companies.
In the video, Al Armendariz said his approach to dealing with noncompliant oil and gas companies, shared with his staff, is "like when the Romans conquered the villages in the Mediterranean, they'd go into little villages in Turkish towns and they'd find the first five guys they saw and crucify them."
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) led a letter of GOP committee members Friday asking for numerous documents relating to EPA’s enforcement priorities, strategies and procedures for Region 6.
"While you have apologized for these comments, there is genuine concern that your comments reflect the agency’s overall enforcement philosophy," the letter states.
"Further, the Committee anticipates that it will request your presence at a hearing in the near future to examine enforcement priorities and practices of the agency," it adds. "We note that you declined to attend the field hearing our Committee conducted in March 2011 in Texas. However, you stated at that time that you would be willing to make yourself available in the future to discuss your office’s work. Committee staff will be in contact with you with regard to the scheduling of the hearing.
"As this will be our second request to have you appear before our Committee, and in light of the seriousness of the concerns that need to be addressed, the Committee is prepared to use all authorities at its disposal to ensure your attendance."
Armendariz called his remarks "an offensive and inaccurate way to portray our efforts to address potential violations of our nation's environmental laws."
Ranking Member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who posted the video online Wednesday, said on the Senate floor that he is launching an investigation into the EPA's actions toward domestic energy production.
The White House has tried to brushed off Armendariz's remark as a one-off.
"Currently, oil production is at an eight-year high. And natural gas production is at an all-time high," Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Friday. "And I think that those specific statistics speak much more about this administration’s policies related to oil and gas production than anything that was said a couple of years ago by an EPA administrator."