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EPA official apologizes for description of the agency's enforcement policies

Al Armendariz was appointed by President Obama in 2009.
official photo

EPA Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz Wednesday issued a written apology after a video surfaced of him saying that companies not complying with environmental law should be crucified.

" I apologize to those I have offended and regret my poor choice of words. It was an offensive and inaccurate way to portray our efforts to address potential violations of our nation's environmental laws," he said. "I am always and have been committed to fair and vigorous enforcement of those laws."

The video that has spurred outrage shows Armendariz answering questions about EPA enforcement policies at a meeting in the small Texas town of Dish in May 2010. The Administrator that oversees Texas, Oklahoma,Arkansas, Louisiana and New Mexico tells the audience he is going to share an analogy with them. In the Middle Ages he says, the Romans would enter a troublesome village, take the first five guys they saw and crucify them, and then the village would be easy to manage.

To Republicans the comments are proof that EPA under President Barack Obama has stepped up the enforcement to a point where it is harming the economy and energy industry.

"The EPA Regional Administrator's outrageous comments about his 'philosophy of enforcement' - which he acknowledged is akin to crucifying businesses - is further proof that this Administration is more worried about aggressively advancing its radical agenda than fostering job growth and expanding the economy", said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott in a statement Thursday.

But does environmental regulation really affect the economy? It looks like it . A Report by SMU COX Maguire Energy Institute in Dallas finds, for example, that affordable and reliable electric power is critical for a viable U.S manufacturing and should any combination of policies lead to an increase in the price of electricity, reduce the reliability of energy sources, and also increase natural gas prices, the clear impact on economic growth in manufacturing sector will be negative, leading to a loss of 1.8 million jobs by 2020, and 4.1 million jobs by 2030. Something that would have great impact in a country where many manufacturing activities already have been transferred abroad.

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