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White House defends EPA in wake of attack by Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe

White House spokesman says the Obama administration has not sought to crucify oil and gas exploration companies, while Inhofe rejects apology from EPA administrator in charge of Oklahoma and Texas.
by Chris Casteel Published: April 27, 2012

The White House on Thursday rejected Sen. Jim Inhofe's charges that the Environmental Protection Agency has sought to crucify oil and gas companies and said an EPA official was “inaccurate” when he likened the agency's enforcement approach to Roman crucifixions.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the rise of domestic oil and gas production in the last few years proves that the administration is not targeting exploration companies for violations of environmental laws.

Carney's comments came a day after Inhofe, R-Tulsa, released a video clip of EPA official Al Armendariz, who heads the agency's region that includes Oklahoma and Texas, speaking at a public meeting in Texas in 2010 about enforcing laws related to oil and gas exploration.

Making an example?

In the video, Armendariz describes an approach of making examples of a few companies, the way Romans did with crucifixions when they invaded a town.

Inhofe said the comments offered a rare glimpse into the Obama administration's agenda. Armendariz apologized Wednesday for the comments.

Inhofe said Thursday that Armendariz had apologized for his poor choice of words but not for “EPA's actions toward its apparent crucifixion victims.”

Inhofe said in a statement, “Remember, not long after Administrator Armendariz made this stunning admission, EPA targeted natural gas producers in Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming, making headline-grabbing allegations that American energy producers were causing water contamination; but in each case, their comments were contrived, and despite their determination, they were unable to find any definitive evidence to back up their alarmist claims.”

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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