Former EPA official takes job with environmentalist group

Michael P. Tremoglie Jul. 2, 2012, 9:38am


DALLAS (Legal Newsline) - The former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator who resigned in April after a video was made public in which he said he wanted to "crucify" the energy industry may get his chance.

The Sierra Club announced Friday that Dr. Alfredo "Al" Armendariz will join its Beyond Coal campaign in mid-July as Senior Campaign Representative.

Armendariz and Beyond Coal seem to be well suited to one another. He said in the video - made while talking to EPA staff - that they should approach their enforcement the way he perceives the ancient Romans enforced their laws.

He said, "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'd 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."

The objective of the Beyond Coal campaign is "making sure that the existing fleet of outdated coal plants gets cleaned up or phased out - and is replaced by solar and wind energy that's ready to fill our energy needs, create new jobs, and jump-start the green economy."

The Sierra Club expressed how pleased it is to have Armendariz. Indeed, in a written statement a campaign official mentioned that Armendariz worked intimately with the Sierra Club for years.

"This is an exciting day for clean energy and public health supporters in Texas," said Bruce Nilles, Senior Campaign Director for Beyond Coal. "Al has worked closely with the Sierra Club for many years, as an environmental scientist and professor. He understands the critical importance of developing clean energy to create jobs, protect people and protect air and water."

But Republicans were less than happy with Armendariz. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., said when Armendariz' comment was made public, "We have very strong feelings about Mr. Armendariz. There is no question he has poisoned the well in enforcement of EPA laws in region six."

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the ranking member of the Senate Energy Committee was very critical of Armendariz during his tenure. He issued a tongue-in-cheek congratulatory statement about the hiring.

"I would like to congratulate Dr. Armendariz for his new job as a key player in the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign," Inhofe said. "At least at the Sierra Club he won't get into so much trouble for telling the truth that their true agenda is to kill oil, gas and coal.

"I had suspected that Dr. Armendariz skipped out on his testimony in the House for a job interview at the Sierra Club... I was however, surprised not to have been asked to provide a reference - I would have been happy to tell the Sierra Club about his steadfast commitment to regulating fossil fuels out of existence."

"Dr. Armendariz follows numerous Obama administration officials who have come from or moved to radical left and green groups - it's as if there is a revolving door between the White House and organizations such as the Sierra Club and the Center for American Progress. Don't forget that the Sierra Club has endorsed President Obama, and several EPA officials have publicly admitted that they are working hand and glove with far left green groups to end fossil fuel development in America."

According to the Sierra Club announcement, Armendariz will be based in Austin, Texas, and he will, "draw on his scientific expertise working on air, water, and climate science to help move Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas off coal-fired electricity and toward an economy powered by job-generating clean energy sources such as wind and the sun."

Before his controversial appointment as an EPA Regional Administrator, Armendariz was as a professor in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Prior to this he worked as a chemical engineer with Radian Corporation in North Carolina.

"As a third generation Texan, I'm proud to be taking on this new role to help protect Texas," said Armendariz.

"As a father and a scientist, I know how important it is to transition to cleaner sources of energy that don't pollute the air that our children breathe, and I'm proud to be working on a campaign with a proven track record for success."

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