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Entries in EPA (6)

Monday
Apr302012

EPA Regional Administrator Resigns Following ‘Crucify’ Comments

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Over the weekend, Environmental Protection Agency Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz resigned following a conservative outcry after remarks he made in 2010 came to light, suggesting government officials should take lessons from ancient Romans and “crucify” people not complying with environmental laws.

“As I have expressed publicly, and to you directly, I regret comments I made several years ago that do not in any way reflect my work as regional administrator,” Armendariz wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. “As importantly, they do not represent the work you have overseen as EPA administrator. While I feel there is much work that remains to be done for the people of this country in the region that I serve, after a great deal of thought and careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that my continued service will distract you and the agency from its important work. Therefore, I am offering my resignation, effective Monday, April 30, 2012.”

Jackson said in a statement that “Dr. Armendariz offered his resignation, which I accepted. I respect the difficult decision he made and his wish to avoid distracting from the important work of the Agency. We are all grateful for Dr. Armendariz’s service to EPA and to our nation.”

The 2010 video, publicized by frequent EPA foe Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., showed Armendariz saying that he gave the following analogy to his staff about his “philosophy of enforcement,” which he acknowledged being crude and perhaps inappropriate, but shared anyway: “It is kind of like how the Romans used to conquer villages in the Mediterranean – they’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere and they’d find the first five guys they saw, they’d crucify ‘em, and that little town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”

Armendariz continued: “And so, you make examples out of people who are, in this case, not complying with the law. You find people who are not complying with the law and you hit ‘em as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, there’s 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.”

Last Thursday White House press secretary Jay Carney noted that Armendariz had “apologized and made clear that those comments are an inaccurate way to characterize the work EPA does.”

EPA Region VI covers Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and dozens of tribal nations.

Oklahoma’s Inhofe was not convinced. “With an election on the horizon,” Inhofe said in a press release, “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.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr262012

White House Says EPA Official’s ‘Crucify’ Comments Are ‘Inaccurate’

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House Thursday distanced itself from comments made by a regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in which he suggested government officials should take lessons from ancient Romans and “crucify” people not complying with environmental laws.

In a 2010 video brought to light by frequent EPA foe Senator James Inhofe, R-Okla., EPA Region VI Administrator Al Almendariz said that he gave the following analogy to his staff about his “philosophy of enforcement,” which he acknowledged being crude and perhaps inappropriate, but shared anyway: “It is kind of like how the Romans used to conquer villages in the Mediterranean -- they’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere and they’d find the first five guys they saw, they’d crucify ‘em, and that little town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”

Almendariz continued: “And so, you make examples out of people who are, in this case, not complying with the law. You find people who are not complying with the law and you hit ‘em as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, there’s 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.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Thursday noted that Almendariz has “apologized and made clear that those comments are an inaccurate way to characterize the work EPA does.”

Carney went on to argue that the comments also do not reflect Obama administration policy, saying “since the president took office, oil and gas production has increased each year. Oil is currently at an eight-year high, and domestic natural gas production is higher than at any time in history. On federal lands and waters alone, oil production is up 13 percent since the president took office. And in 2010, for the first time in 13 years, imported oil accounted for less than 50 percent of the oil consumed in America.”

Inhofe was not convinced. “With an election on the horizon,” Inhofe said in a press release, “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.”

Asked why Almendariz was still employed at the EPA despite the president’s past calls for softening crude rhetoric, Carney said “he’s apologized and…what he said is clearly not representative of either this president’s belief in the way that we should approach these matters or in the way that he has approached these matters, either from this office here in the White House or at the EPA.” Region VI covers Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and dozens of tribal nations.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan102012

Obama Thanks EPA Staff for ‘Vital’ Work

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama visited the Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday to thank the staff for their “vital” work and to defend the mission of the agency, which has been targeted by Republicans on Capitol Hill and the campaign trail.

Although the president did not call out the EPA’s critics by name, he spoke out against claims that the agency’s policies hinder economic growth.

“Safeguarding our environment is also about strengthening our economy,” Obama said in his first visit to the EPA headquarters as president. “I do not buy the notion that we have to make a choice between having clean air and clean water, and growing this economy in a robust way. I think that is a false debate....What’s good for the environment can also be good for our economy.”

The president thanked the agency’s staff for protecting the environment and making progress toward energy independence.

“The main reason I’m here is simple:  I just want to say thank you,” Obama said. “You help make sure that the air we breathe, the water we drink, the foods we eat are safe.  You protect the environment not just for our children, but their children.  And you keep us moving towards energy independence.  And it is a vital mission.

“I know that sometimes spending time getting these policies right means less time at home than you’d like, and, you know, you’re missing birthday parties or you’re missing the soccer game, and the spouse is not happy with you.  I know a little bit about that sometimes,” the president joked.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec202011

Bobby Jindal Joins Rick Perry on Iowa Bus Tour

U.S. Congress(MAQUOKETA, Iowa) – Texas Gov. Rick Perry was joined by a fellow Southern governor in Iowa Tuesday as Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal traveled to the state to campaign with the presidential candidate he endorsed in September.  

“The reality is there are going to be a lot of people running for president who can give a great speech, and a lot of people who come out of Washington, D.C., and I’m here to help support Rick Perry because I think we’ve got to elect somebody who’s actually run his state,” Jindal said at a meet and greet at the Decker Hotel.  

Jindal, whose state borders Texas, listed the reasons he supports Perry and recounted the assistance Perry offered to Louisiana during Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, saying the Texas governor presented an evacuation plan to him before any federal agency.

“The reason I can stand here and tell you that we can support Rick Perry to be our next president of the United States,” Jindal said. “He is a governor that has led. He will not need on the job training.”

Jindal not only heaped praise on the Texas governor, but he also threw Perry a lifeline when the Texas governor stumbled in explaining a portion of his tax plan.

A voter asked Perry if the standard deduction would still exist if someone opts to use his proposed 20 percent flat tax, and after Perry mistakenly responded no, Jindal chimed in, reminding the Texas governor the standard deduction would still be in place.

“Thank you for correcting me on that governor, not that I ever make a mistake,” Perry joked. “But it’s always good to have Bobby here to correct me.”

Perry spent a good portion of his speech chastising the EPA and expounding upon his energy plans.  Though he did not name any of his rivals by name, he criticized those working for K Street and Wall Street, a theme he introduced Monday, and also noted that he doesn’t understand the difference between a consultant and lobbyist, a direct jab at Newt Gingrich.

Jindal will join Perry at each of his events in Iowa Tuesday and Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep082011

Al Gore Criticizes Obama for Backing Out on Smog Standards

AXEL SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Saying that the president “bowed to pressure from polluters,” Al Gore on Wednesday joined other environmentalists who reacted strongly against the news that President Obama has withdrawn smog standards submitted by his own Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

In a statement released on the eve of a three-day holiday weekend last Friday, the president announced that while his administration has taken “some of the strongest actions since the enactment of the Clean Air Act” to protect the environment, he had decided to ask EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Standards.

In a statement released Wednesday, Al Gore said that the president’s action will lead to “increased medical bills for seniors with lung disease, more children developing asthma and the continued degradation of our air quality.”

Lisa Heinzerling, the EPA’s former Associate Administrator of Office Policy under the Obama administration, has called the move “terribly bad news, and terribly bad policy.”  Heinzerling, who has returned to teaching at Georgetown University, wrote a blog Friday saying the reason Obama used to withdraw the standards was “unlawful.”  The Supreme Court, she wrote, “has unequivocally held that the Clean Air Act forbids the consideration of economic costs in setting the NAAQS [National Ambient Air Quality Standard].”

In his statement, Obama said he has “continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover.”  He said work is underway that will result in the reconsideration of the ozone standard in 2013.  “Ultimately,” he said, “I did not support asking state and local governments to begin implementing a new standard that will soon be reconsidered.”

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, told ABC News: “This decision is a major betrayal of the president’s base and the values he ran on.  It was a cornerstone of the administration’s environmental agenda, which they just tossed off the side like ballast from a boat.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep022011

Obama Tells EPA to Ditch New Ozone Regulations

EPA(LOS ANGELES) -- Just days after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced the House would begin voting to repeal proposed air quality regulations that he said would prevent job growth, President Obama instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw its proposed ozone regulations.

"I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover," Obama said in a statement.

Obama said the standards are already being revised and would have to be updated again in 2013.

"Ultimately, I did not support asking state and local governments to begin implementing a new standard that will soon be reconsidered," Obama said in the statement.

In a jobs agenda memo to House Republicans, Cantor said the proposed ozone regulations would be "possibly the most harmful of all the currently anticipated Obama administration regulations" and would cost at least $1 trillion over a decade to implement. The EPA estimates that the public health benefits from the regulations could save up to $100 billion per year. But critics say the restrictions would cost employers dearly.

Besides small business tax breaks, Cantor's plan to ignite job growth was focused entirely on preventing new federal regulations from taking effect. All but three of the 10 regulations Cantor targeted are Environmental Protection Agency rules geared toward limiting power plant emissions.

"By pursuing a steady repeal of job-destroying regulations, we can help lift the cloud of uncertainty hanging over small and large employers alike, empowering them to hire more workers," Cantor, R-Va., wrote in the memo to House Republicans.

But EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson wrote Wednesday in a Huffington Post Op-ed that delaying the implementation of the proposed standards would "leave companies uncertain about investing" and prevent them from creating more jobs.

Cantor claims the regulations are "costly bureaucratic handcuffs" and will destroy millions of jobs. Under his plan the House will vote each week to roll back regulations on everything from more stringent ozone standards to coal ash emissions, a by-product of coal-burning power plants.

An EPA official said the agency has been implementing regulations like these since its inception in 1970, both when the economy was booming and when it was lagging.

"The EPA's regulations have had nothing to do with the current economic recovery that we're in," the EPA official maintains. "We've been doing this for 40 years. The bottom line is the economy continues to grow in the United States while we continue to do environmental control in the United States."

Some scientists claim that environmental regulation does not kill jobs because stricter standards spur innovation, which in turn creates jobs. Critics maintain that since the restrictions cost more to implement, following them in turn means less money for hiring employees in a time in which the country needs jobs the most.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio