A video from 2010 recently surfaced, showing EPA Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz explaining his philosophy of enforcement, which he admitted was rather crude, but went ahead anyway to tell his audience:
It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them.
This revelation has created quite a stir in the media, with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney denying to the press corps that the EPA’s standard operating procedure is to crucify oil and gas producers. “Clearly, there is not an effort of the nature that you talk about,” said Carney.
The truth is, the EPA has been using these thuggish tactics and “making examples” of corporations for years.
Under the Clinton Administration, Carol M. Browner, who served as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, initiated a law suit against seven utility companies across the country: Tampa Electric Company, American Electric Power, FirstEnergy, Illinois Power, Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Company, Cinergy, and the Southern Company. Tampa Electric Company was the first utility to enter into a settlement with the EPA and DOJ.
The Notice of Violation and Complaint against Tampa Electric Company, initiated in November 1999, charged that TECO “violated the law at their power plants by making major modifications to the plants without installing equipment required to control smog, acid rain and soot.”
As a part of the agreement, the Consent Decree states:
WHEREAS, Tampa Electric has denied and continues to deny the violations alleged in the NOV and the Complaint; maintains that it has been and remains in compliance with the Clean Air Act and is not liable for civil penalties or injunctive relief; and states that it is agreeing to the obligations imposed by this Consent Decree solely to avoid the costs and uncertainties of litigation and to improve the environment in and around the Tampa Bay area of Florida…
This statement clearly proves that Tampa Electric Company settled to avoid prolonged and costly litigation by the EPA and the DOJ.
The News Release from the EPA stated “This agreement is the first to result from a national enforcement action aimed at cutting emissions from coal-fired power plants… We are hopeful that other utilities will follow Tampa Electric example, and help bring similar clean-air benefits to many other areas in this country.”
In the settlement agreement, Tampa Electric Company agreed to pay a $3.5 million dollar civil penalty and to invest between $10 and $11 million dollars on “environmentally beneficial projects in the region designed to mitigate the impact of emissions from the company’s plants.” TECO also committed to a $1.2 billion investment over a ten year period to provide cleaner energy by retro-fitting existing power plants and increasing the use of renewable energy sources to provide electricity to its customers.
As a customer of TECO, seeing advertisements on television and receiving updates in the mail, and doing further research which revealed the EPA lawsuit in 1999, I questioned a source in the industry who builds power plants if there was a connection. He flatly stated “If you are asking if a gun was put to their head…ABSOLUTELY!”
Then EPA administrator Carol M. Browner grew up in Florida and headed the Department of Environmental Regulation from 1991-1993. In December 2008 President-elect Barack Obama named Browner to be the Director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy , informally known as the “Climate” or “Energy Czar”. In 2001 she left the Obama Administration, and is currently a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Center for American Progress and a member of the organization’s Executive Committee.
The EPA has been bullying and intimidating corporations for a long time, and their standard operating procedure is precisely what Al Armendariz was caught articulating on that video tape.
The ever-expanding and over-reaching regulatory powers of the EPA must be reined in by Congress. Common sense needs to be restored to environmental decision making, and economic impact must be considered in all environmental legislation.
Start with approving the Keystone XL Pipeline.