Crucify the oil companies! UPDATED

Last night I was having a quiet evening at home when the doorbell rang. An earnest young woman was gathering signatures for a petition against fracking. To the best of my knowledge there is no fracking in Princeton (and if there was, I would probably support it), so I told her I wasn’t interested.

She insisted that I sign, since the petition was “against the fracking companies in Pennsylvania sending their radioactive waste to New Jersey.” Again I declined, again she persisted. I wished her a good evening and shut the door. She yelled something to the effect of “the evil must be stopped,” and moved on.

She ought to get a job with Al Armendariz’s Region 6 EPA office:
EPA Official Not Only Touted ‘Crucifying’ Oil Companies, He Tried It

The Armendriz video (which appears to have been taken off YouTube late late night) was shot around the same time he was preparing the action against Range. Here’s the highlights of what he said.
The Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.

And so you make examples out of people who are in this case not compliant with the law. Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there. And, companies that are smart see that, they don’t want to play that game, and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up.

And, that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people. So you go out, you look at an industry, you find people violating the law, you go aggressively after them. And we do have some pretty effective enforcement tools. Compliance can get very high, very, very quickly.

That’s what these companies respond to is both their public image but also financial pressure. So you put some financial pressure on a company, you get other people in that industry to clean up very quickly.

The former professor at Southern Methodist University is a diehard environmentalist, having grown up in El Paso near a copper smelter that reportedly belched arsenic-laced clouds into the air. (Here’s a profile of him in the Dallas Observer.) Texas Monthly called him one of the 25 most powerful Texans, while the Houston Chronicle said he’s “the most feared environmentalist in the state.”

Nevermind that he couldn’t prove jack against Range. For a year and a half EPA bickered over the issue, both with Range and with the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas drilling and did its own scientific study of Range’s wells and found no evidence that they polluted anything. In recent months a federal judge slapped the EPA, decreeing that the agency was required to actually do some scientific investigation of wells before penalizing the companies that drilled them. Finally in March the EPA withdrew its emergency order and a federal court dismissed the EPA’s case

The video has been pulled but you can watch a snippet at a Fox News report,

found the YouTube with Almendariz’s statements here,

As Steven Hayward explains,

It is important to grasp why this kind of excessive zeal is the rule rather than the exception from federal regulators, and always will be. Armendariz is wholly typical of the regulator mentality, and we won’t prevent future “crucifixions” until we make fundamental changes to revive the rule of law and restore some kind of democratic accountability to the administrative state.

Let the snark flow!

UPDATE, 30 April,
Top EPA official resigns after ‘crucify’ comment

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6 Responses to “Crucify the oil companies! UPDATED”

  1. Bryan Says:

    “She insisted that I sign, since the petition was “against the fracking companies in Pennsylvania sending their radioactive waste to New Jersey.””
    What radioactive waste? According to Wikipedia: “Hydraulic fracturing is the propagation of fractures in a rock layer caused by the presence of a pressurized fluid.” There is some small condern about toxic chemicals in the hydralic fluids used, but this is the first I’ve heard someone claim they were radioactive.

  2. jlh Says:

    Armendariz seems to have read a history book with short term memory loss. This is more or less what the Nazis did to the Serbs, among others.

    He should also note the rest of the lesson. When the Romans got a bit arrogant and decided to teach Arminius a lesson in the Teutoburg Forest, they lost a complete legion and its standard. And what they learned from that was that it was not a really good idea to cross the Rhine.

  3. Marianne Matthews Says:

    Leaving the question of “crucifying” aside, this strange little man is obviously an academic, with little knowledge of how companies are managed. In his rush to initiate action against the eeevil oil companies, he has ignored the actual facts of the case: that a] the oil companies are already among the most heavily regulated and taxed companies in the United States; that b]the so-called “obscene” profits he talks about are about average [between 13% and 14%] in relation to the size of the corporation’s income. ExxonMobil is the largest publicly owned company in the United States, and its investors, both the “widows and orphans” who hold small amounts of stock and depend on the income from their stock to survive, and the larger investors, deserve a fair return on their money. There’s nothing “obscene” about the income these investors receive. The only “obscenity” here is this little ignoramus.
    We can always talk about “crucifixion” later. By the way, we don’t do that any more. He should be relieved.

    Marianne Matthews

    P.S. He too is “an owner” of an oil company if he has an insurance policy, or owns stock in a bank.

  4. Fausta Says:

    Indeed, Bryan, but I wasn’t going to get into an argument.

  5. newton Says:

    “She yelled something to the effect of “the evil must be stopped,” and moved on.”

    How is fracking “evil”? Really. It’s the same thing as Al Gore calling for the elimination of the internal combustion engine for it being “evil”.

    I would have asked this brainless girl where she is going to/went to college, and if she belongs to the local “Occupy” group. Because I doubt that anyone with a petrochemical engineering degree or who graduated from the Colorado School of Mines with it is taking part in such “Stop Evil Fracking!” nonsense.

    Meanwhile, in Houston/DFW/San Antonio, fracking rules!

  6. Fausta Says:

    brainless girl
    Brainless, yes. A little overripe for “girl”, though.

    She’s probably spending today in Manhattan with the Occupiers.