Thursday, June 07, 2012

Former EPA official avoids his own crucifixion

An EPA official who resigned in disgrace after making controversial remarks that he would “crucify” energy companies avoided his own crucifixion Wednesday by cancelling his appearance before a panel of angry House lawmakers. Al Armendariz, EPA’s region six administrator, was scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on energy and power. His lawyer cancelled the appearance late Tuesday afternoon and said Armendariz was no longer willing to testify, prompting lawmakers to expand their initial inquiry to determine if the White House pressured the ex-official to drop out of the hearing. “Why, several weeks after he had agreed to testify, did he retain counsel and withdraw?” asked Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) chairman of the full committee. “Did the Obama administration urge him not to appear?”Other witnesses who appeared before the panel testified about conflicts with Armendariz’s enforcement efforts, including one incident where the ex EPA official blamed water pollution on a natural gas company. The case was dropped after a year, but the company was forced to spend $4 million defending itself. Allen Short, general manager of the Modesto Irrigation District in California’s Central Valley, said the EPA is requiring them to implement a plan to reduce regional haze that is expected to cost $800 million – far above the EPA’s estimated cost of $345 million. “It would remove only slightly more haze and the improvement would be virtually imperceptible to the human eye,” Short said. “It’s a visibility issue, not a health issue.” Robert Sullivan Jr., chairman of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, said Armendariz spoke to his group in 2010 and showed his bias against fossil fuel...more

No comments: