April 30, 2012
The revelation of the EPA’s “philosophy” used in their regulation of oil and gas companies—“crucify” and “make examples” of, just as the Romans crucified random citizens in areas they conquered to ensure obedience—provides proof of what many have known: policy decisions are made on ideology and emotion rather than fact, sound science, and economic or human impact. For this, we should all be grateful to Al Armendariz, EPA Administrator for Region 6.
The outrage continues to grow. Armendariz says the EPA believes in singling out an individual oil company, punish it "as hard as you can," and make an example of it to scare others into submission.
It's an intimidation tactic the he borrowed from the ancient Romans:
"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." Video clip here.
The White House shrugged off the "crucify them" characterization by the regulator noting he would keep his job. The harshest thing his boss EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson had to say is that Armendariz comments were "disappointing." But, no one has said Armendariz misrepresented the "general philosophy" in practice by the Administration.
Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) first exposed the damning video of Armendariz's comments, and has been leading an investigation into EPA's tactics and war on energy.
Inhofe is the Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He cites some hard evidence of the EPA's regulatory hard ball. Despite a natural gas boom on private land, the Energy Information Agency (EIA) reports natural gas sales of production from federal lands are down 17% since 2008, Inhofe said in a recent Senate floor speech.
In Thursday’s hearing, Inhofe says Amendariz frequently claimed a “danger of fire or explosion.” Inhofe cited the Parker County Texas case as the “most outrageous.” There, in 2010, Armendariz’s region issued an Emergency Administrative Order against Range Resources—overriding the Texas state regulators who were already investigating the claim that hydraulic fracturing was contaminating well water. The Senator went on to say that “Along with this order, EPA went on a publicity barrage in an attempt to publicize its premature and unjustified conclusions.”
The Emergency Administrative Order was dropped earlier this month, but was done, as Inhofe called it, by “strategically attempting to make these announcements as quietly as possible.”
Both the EPA and the White House are trying to distance themselves from the Armendariz comments. Cynthia Giles, the EPA's assistant administrator in charge of enforcement said, “Inevitably, some will try to imply that the unfortunate and inaccurate words of one regional official represent this Agency's policy. Rest assured that they do not—and no honest examination of our record could equate our commonsense approach with such an exaggerated claim.”
Even though the Administration is dismissive of Armendariz's revelation, others see it as exposing the real agenda. Congressman John Fleming of Louisiana, where thousands of jobs have been lost due to the heavy handed moratorium imposed in the gulf by the Obama Administration, nailed it. "The use of threats and intimidation to force energy companies to submit to an extremist agenda may be fitting under a totalitarian regime, but it is never acceptable in the United States," Fleming said.
Investor's Business Daily connected the dots correctly in a scathing – and accurate - editorial, "the only conclusion is that Armendariz is doing exactly what the White House wants. He just made the error of saying it."
The Armendariz model is used more frequently than most would believe. Decisions are often made on ideology and emotion rather than fact, sound science, and economic or human impact. Those decisions are often walked back—making the future look more like the past.
Take, for instance, Germany’s environmentalist-appeasing, post-Fukushima decision to shut down their nuclear plants.
Following the Fukushima nuclear accident, a decision was made to shut down 8 of its 17 nuclear reactors with the remainder being phased out within a decade—before their life expectancy is over. Critics of the Merkel administration, say it “never formulated a coherent strategy for switching to new forms of energy or for upgrading the country's electricity grid.” The decision was motivated by ideology and emotion rather than fact, sound science, and economic or human impact.
One of the closed plants is Unterweser, located in the town of Kleinensiel. Maik Otholt, a Kleinensiel resident expressed his frustration with the decision: “Our facilities were serviced every year; they're in perfect shape. Nothing ever went wrong. And so now what are we doing? We're buying nuclear energy from France. Their plant is just over the border. And now we're buying that expensive electricity. It’s crazy.”
To make up for the loss of electricity from the nuclear plants, Germany is now, as Maik Otholt said, importing nuclear-generated power. Before the closures, Germany had electricity to spare and sold it to other countries. Additionally, Germany is building or modernizing 84 power plants—and more than half of those will be run on fossil fuels including many on coal. The use of coal-fueled electricity generation has angered the very same environmentalists who cheered the nuclear plant closures.
Addressing Germany’s increased use of coal, Stefan Judisch, chief executive of RWE Supply & Trading, said, “If we were to replace (nuclear) baseload with renewable energies and gas, then electricity would become expensive.”
While environmentalists are touting the ideology of a carbon-free future, Germany has to face a reality that is far from a carbon-free future—making it look more like the past.
As the anti-fracking ideology and emotion continues to climb, remember the philosophy of Al Armendariz who punished to “ensure obedience” and the EPA’s “publicity barrage in an attempt to publicize its premature and unjustified conclusions.” In Texas, as well as Wyoming and Pennsylvania, the EPA has had to walk back the accusations as the science didn’t support them—but by then the public had already been swayed by the fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
Somehow, someway, we can't let ideology and emotion shape America’s energy future. It needs to be based on fact and sound science with consideration for the economic and human impacts.
We believe that the Constitution of the United States speaks for itself. There is no need to rewrite, change or reinterpret it to suit the fancies of special interest groups or protected classes.