WASHINGTON — 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
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.”
Asked at a news briefing whether Armendariz should be fired, Carney said, “Well, I think he's apologized and he's — what he said is clearly not representative of either this president's belief in the way that we should approach these matters or in the way that he has approached these matters, either from this office here in the White House or at the EPA.”
Inhofe sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on Wednesday seeking detailed answers about the agency's actions in cases in Texas, Pennsylvania and Wyoming in which the agency initially announced investigations of water contamination related to natural gas exploration using hydraulic fracturing but later modified its findings or actions.