Published April 27, 2012
The EPA is supposed to protect the environment, not crucify industries that which it dislikes. But as the sensational video that recently surfaced shows, all too often the agency does the latter.
If the problem began and ended with EPA Region 6 administrator Al Armendariz, then dismissing him would be enough to solve it. Unfortunately, Armendariz merely used more colorful language to describe an approach that has driven the agenda of President Obama's EPA.
That’s why Congress must stand up to these unaccountable bureaucrats.
Armendariz is the EPA regional director who oversees Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. It’s a region our country relies on heavily for oil and gas production. But Armendariz seems unconcerned about the economic impact of launching a crusade against oil and gas companies.
“My philosophy of enforcement,” he said in a now infamous video “was kind of like how 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'd crucify them. And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”
The Armendariz approach is the opposite of how regulators should behave. They should try to protect our health and safety while allowing businesses to succeed and expand. They shouldn’t crucify.
Yet the Obama EPA has repeatedly acted to vindictively limit the economic activity of individuals and businesses. They have even done so in egregiously illegal ways, as we recently found out in the unanimous Supreme Court case Sackett v. EPA.
The Sacketts are an Idaho couple that simply wanted to build a house on their private property. EPA told them that if they did they would be fined $75,000 per day and tried to block them from disputing the order. As Justice Alito eloquently wrote: “In a nation that values due process, not to mention private property, such treatment is unthinkable.”
In another recent case, a court struck down the Obama EPA’s attempt to revoke a valid mining permit that had been issued by the Army Corps of Engineers. The judge in that case, Mingo Longo, wrote: “EPA resorts to magical thinking. It posits a scenario involving the automatic self-destruction of a written permit issued by an entirely separate federal agency after years of study and consideration. Poof!”
The most egregious overreach of all is the EPA’s astonishing war on coal. In a thicket of excessive and unnecessary regulations – including the dubious transformation of the 1970 Clean Air Act into a global warming law – the Obama administration has set in motion rules that would force every coal plant in the United States to retire or convert to natural gas. The result will be steeply higher electricity prices, lost jobs, and lower standards of living.
Last election cycle, Obama accidentally let slip his anti-coal position. He said: “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad.” He went on to explain: “So, if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can — it’s just that it will bankrupt them.”
His cap-and-trade plan crashed and burned and cost dozens of Democrats their seats in Congress. Yet the day after the 2010 election Obama said: “Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way. It was a means, not an end. And I’m going to be looking for other means to address this problem.”
I’m sure Armendariz cheered, because Obama appeared ready to resort to his methods.
The worst part of Obama’s crusade against affordable, reliable energy is that it’s an undeclared war. Congress never voted for these policies – in fact, they voted against them. But the crusade continues nonetheless.
The U.S. Senate will soon have an opportunity to put a stop to this crusade when it votes on Senator Jim Inhofe’s S.J.Res 37, which would overturn Obama’s most costly coal regulation. You can urge your senator to vote yes by going to www.WarOnCoal.com. Please do.
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment and the author of "Democracy Denied: How Obama is Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America - and How to Stop Him."