Free nations that respect the rule of law tend not to make examples of their citizens, much less crucify them. This rule of thumb, however, seems to have been lost on the EPA, an official from which had an interesting analogy to share in a video that has just surfaced:
I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement, and I think it was probably a little crude and maybe not appropriate for the meeting, but I’ll go ahead and tell you what I said:
It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them.
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.
Note that the speaker, Region VI administrator Al Armendariz, considered his words not to be inappropriate for a government agency to think or do but to say at a “meeting.” Note also that he didn’t consider them inappropriate enough to avoid repeating on camera, and that this was the second time he used them, despite his reservations about the first time. The video:
Senator Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.) took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to denounce the official’s words, contending that the video offered a “rare glimpse” into the outlook of the administration and highlighting examples of such an approach being employed against natural gas producers in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming:
Against the backdrop of recent events, and Administrator Armendariz’s admission that EPA is out to crucify natural gas companies, it’s clear that EPA did not base these three studies on sound science or engage in the proper scientific process; the agency has been using questionable authorities while usurping the rightful regulatory authority of states…EPA clearly went through with these investigations based on preconceived conclusions with the explicit goal of tying potential environmental harms to hydraulic fracturing.
Inhofe’s full speech:
This morning, Mr. Almendariz said he regretted his “poor choice of words.” It was, he said, “an offensive and inaccurate way to portray our efforts to address potential violations of our nation’s environmental laws . . . I am and have always been committed to fair and vigorous enforcement of those laws.”
One could argue that there was nothing whatsoever wrong with the “choice of words.” They betrayed perfectly what the EPA’s administrator wanted to say. Certainly, Senator Inhofe is not buying the apology. In a statement released today, he noted that,
with an election on the horizon, President Obama is pretending to be a friend of oil and natural gas, claiming he’s for an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach, but Administrator Armendariz’s comments reveal the true story: while President Obama has photo ops in front of pipelines in Oklahoma, his E.P.A. is working aggressively to ‘crucify’ oil and gas producers so they can end hydraulic fracturing, knowing full well that if you stop hydraulic fracturing, you kill domestic oil and gas production.
Senator Inhofe has promised an investigation into the EPA, and confirmed that the apology will not deter him from conducting one.