The House Energy and Power Subcommittee will hold hearings on Wednesday into the enforcement priorities and practices of the Environmental Protection Agency. Sadly, they will have to make do without the poster boy for those priorities and practices, for the legendary former Region 6 administrator, Al Armendariz, decided not to show up.
Armendariz became a viral video star after a 2010 videotape of him comparing EPA strategy to the behavior of invading Roman legions was made public in April: ???It is kind of like how the Romans used to conquer the villages in the Mediterranean ??? they???d go into a little Turkish town somewhere and they???d find the first five guys they saw and they???d crucify them. Then that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. You find people who are not complying with the law and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them. There???s a deterrent effect there.???
Apparently Armendariz is feeling a little ???deterred??? these days, which is too bad, because the House subcommittee would surely have treated him better than Roman soldiers and EPA bureaucrats treat their prisoners. They probably would have offered him donuts, plus up to sixteen ounces of his favorite sugary beverage.
Taxpayers might have expected Armendariz, a professor at SMU in Dallas before President Obama installed him at the EPA in 2009, to set aside a little time for discussion of his three-year career. It was somewhat abbreviated by the standards of our massive, calcified federal bureaucracy, but it seemed like forever to the unlucky businesses that caught his attention.
An April 30 article in Politico included comments from Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana, which is nestled in the unfortunate EPA Region 6) about why Armendariz??? testimony would be so important:
???There are a lot of things he did in his official capacity??? that Republicans want to investigate, Scalise said, adding: ???Was he getting orders from above to carry out these attacks on business????
Scalise says several business officials from Region 6 have told him they???ve been slighted by Armendariz???s office with trumped-up charges and negative comments in the media, only to have the charges later withdrawn.
Companies are left with their ???reputations damaged, and ultimately it turned out they didn???t do anything wrong,??? Scalise said. ???EPA doesn???t go back and issue an apology; they just move on to the next company.???
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chair Ed Whitfield (R-KY) are simply heartbroken that Armendariz won???t swing by to discuss crucifixonomics with them:
???We are extremely disappointed to hear Dr. Armendariz will no longer be testifying at our hearing tomorrow. Congress and the American people deserve an explanation for the outrageous comments suggesting EPA should ???crucify??? American energy companies, as well as a fuller understanding of EPA???s actual enforcement priorities and practices that are creating a hostile regulatory environment.
President Obama???s EPA has established a record of abuse in its policies and enforcement practices. Tomorrow???s hearing will continue without Armendariz, and we expect compelling testimony from the other witnesses describing concerns with EPA???s aggressive enforcement and regulatory actions.???
No doubt they???ll still have plenty to do at the hearing. The EPA is a large and vigorous agency.