EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is interviewed by the Associated Press… (Kevin Wolf / Associated…)
WASHINGTON -- Alfredo Armendariz, a regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, has resigned in the wake of criticism for comments made in Texas two years ago comparing the methods of the EPA to those of Romans using crucifixions to conquer foreign lands.
“I have accepted Dr. Armendariz’s resignation and respect the fact that he came to this difficult decision because he did not want to distract from our agency’s critical work,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said in an internal memo Monday, obtained by the Washington Post.
Armendariz’s remarks were uncovered by the staff of Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who discovered a video of Armendariz delivering a speech in 2010 while in Dish, Texas. During his address, Armendariz used a metaphor that he acknowledged was “crude” to portray the enforcement practices of the EPA.
“It 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 would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years,” Armendariz said.
“You make examples out of people who are not complying with the law,” he added.
Almost immediately after the full speech was uploaded onto YouTube, Republicans condemned Armendariz, calling for his resignation, and have used his words as a starting point to renew their attacks on the EPA.
“It is no secret in Texas, the heart of America’s oil and gas industry, that the EPA has become a petty, arbitrary and demagogic organization. It is a sad fall for an institution charged with safeguarding the public,” a letter signed by 26 members of Congress sent to Jackson on Friday said.
On the same day, Jackson was seeking to distance Armendariz’s remarks from the EPA.
“They don’t comport with either this administration’s policy on energy, our policy at EPA on environmental enforcement, nor do they comport with our record as well,” she said after a speaking engagement at American University.
In his resignation letter, Armendariz apologized for his remarks.
“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. As importantly, they do not represent the work you [Jackson] have overseen as EPA administrator,” he said.