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
found the YouTube with Almendariz’s statements here,
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.
UPDATE, 30 April,
Top EPA official resigns after ‘crucify’ comment