WASHINGTON — Sen. Jim Inhofe said Monday that it was “only right” for a key Environmental Protection Agency official to resign for comparing the agency's enforcement approach to Roman crucifixions.
Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said the resignation wouldn't slow his investigation of the EPA's actions in three states where the agency linked natural gas drilling to water contamination. Inhofe has called on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to explain the agency's enforcement moves in cases in Texas, Wyoming and Pennsylvania.
The resignation of Al Armendariz — the top official in the EPA region that includes Oklahoma and Texas — came less than a week after Inhofe publicized the administrator's two-year-old comments at a public hearing about natural gas drilling in Texas. In a speech on the Senate floor last week, Inhofe said Armendariz had offered a rare glimpse into the Obama administration's agenda for policing oil and gas companies.
A video clip released by Inhofe last week showed Armendariz answering a question at a town council meeting in 2010 about how the agency would enforce environmental laws pertaining to oil and gas exploration. Armendariz compared it to Romans invading a town and crucifying some people to make examples of them.
The video led some Republican members of Congress to call for Armendariz's resignation, and a House committee sought his appearance for a hearing in Washington. Jackson, who heads the EPA, and the White House declined to offer much of a defense for the administrator when asked last week about the comments.
According to The Associated Press, Armendariz submitted his resignation Sunday night in a letter to Jackson saying, “As I have expressed publicly, and to you directly, I regret comments I made several years ago that do not in any way reflect my work as regional administrator.
“As importantly, they do not represent the work you have overseen as EPA administrator.”