U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe says EPA official was right to resign over crucifixion comments

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. Al Armendariz was the top EPA official in region that includes Oklahoma and Texas.
by Chris Casteel Published: May 1, 2012

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.”

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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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