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EPA official apologizes for ‘crucify’ comments

Bragged in video of toughness toward energy industry

A top official at the Environmental Protection Agency has apologized after being captured on video saying his agency's method of enforcing oil and gas regulations was to find a few bad actors to "crucify" and hold up as examples.

"I apologize to those I have offended and regret my poor choice of words," Region 6 EPA Administrator Al Armendariz said in a statement first provided to the Daily Caller. "It was an offensive and inaccurate way to portray our efforts to address potential violations of our nation's environmental laws. I am and have always been committed to fair and vigorous enforcement of those laws."

Mr. Armendariz, whose region includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, made the comments in 2010. A video recording of his remarks was released Wednesday by Sen. James Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, who quoted them during a speech on the Senate floor. Mr. Inhofe has also launched an investigation into what he is calling President Obama's "war on fossil fuels."

"What he has attempted to do is kill oil, gas and coal … but do it in a way that the American people won't be aware of it," Mr. Inhofe said. "They are able to scare people, intimidate people, and these are the very people who are hiring people and doing what's necessary to run this machine called America."

The video of Mr. Armendariz's comments has gone viral in the 24 hours since its release. Posted on Mr. Inhofe's YouTube channel, it's gotten nearly 64,000 views.

In it, the EPA administrator was apparently responding to a question about the agency's enforcement capacity and its ability to make sure drilling firms are following the rules. Mr. Armendariz's response laid out what some, including Mr. Inhofe, believe is the Obama administration's underlying philosophy when it comes to domestic fossil fuel production.

"I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement, and I think it was probably a little crude and maybe not appropriate for the meeting but I'll go ahead and tell you what I said," Mr. Armendariz 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 would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. … So, that's our general philosophy."

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About the Author

Ben Wolfgang

Ben Wolfgang is a national reporter for The Washington Times. Before coming to the Times, he spent four years as a political reporter in Pennsylvania. His focus is on education and science policy. Ben lives in southeast D.C. and has played guitar in several bands while still in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at

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