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Top environmental official resigns after 'crucify comment' spur outrage

EPA Administrator Al Armendariz resigned Monday.
Official photo

EPA region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz, a former Southern Methodist University (SMU) environmental engineering professor appointed to his post by President Obama in 2009, resigned Sunday in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson saying he did not want to be a distraction for the agency.

"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 have overseen as EPA administrator," he wrote. "I take great pride in having built a career based on integrity and hard work. These are the principles that guide me personally as well. 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."

The video that has spurred outrage among Republicans seeing the comments as proof that EPA under President Obama has stepped up enforcement to a point where it harms the economy and energy industry - especially the technique of hydraulic fracturing - 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.

Republicans in the oil-rich South and Southwest region have called for the Administrator's firing.

“President Barack Obama’s rogue Environmental Protection Agency now has one less radical henchman. Coupled with his laser-like focus on destroying the oil and gas industry in Texas, Armendariz’s repulsive comments were the final straw in his history as a leftist acolyte of the Obama Administration.” Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst said Monday. “The arrogance of Armendariz, his religious insensitivity, and his radical beliefs are a microcosm of the Obama Administration. This is one more reason why we must make President Obama a one-term President in 2012.”

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said Monday that she accepted Armendariz's resignation.

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