In a Senate speech, Senator Inhofe will draw attention to a little known video from 2010, which shows a top EPA official, Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz, using the vivid metaphor of crucifixion to explain EPA’s enforcement tactics for oil and gas producers. In this video Administrator Armendariz says:
Quote from video:
“But as I said, oil and gas is an enforcement priority, it’s one of seven, so we are going to spend a fair amount of time looking at oil and gas production. And I gave, 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. 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. And so you make examples out of people who are in this case not compliant with the law. Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent affect there. And, companies that are smart see that, they don’t want to play that game, and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up. And, that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people. So you go out, you look at an industry, you find people violating the law, you go aggressively after them. And we do have some pretty effective enforcement tools. Compliance can get very high, very, very quickly. That’s what these companies respond to is both their public image but also financial pressure. So you put some financial pressure on a company, you get other people in that industry to clean up very quickly. So, that’s our general philosophy.”
- Coming Soon: A Controversial “Ruling” That Threatens Your Job AND the Economy (articles.mercola.com)
- EPA to slash air pollution from natural gas wells (newsok.com)
- Lisa Jackson’s EPA Goes Rogue (usnews.com)
- EPA: A Rogue Agency under a Rogue President (conservativesonfire.wordpress.com)
July 19, 2011 at 8:01 am by William O’Keefe
Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regularly avoids the public comment process on potentially controversial and excessively expensive regulations. The technique is known as “sue and settle.”
Environmental laws contain citizen suit provisions which are intended to provide recourse by affected parties—states, for example—in cases of non-compliance. But for years, environmental groups have used these provisions in collaboration with a friendly EPA to achieve ends that would be difficult to achieve through the normal rulemaking process.
In an Investor’s Business Daily article earlier this month, reporter John Merline noted:
The EPA even tacitly encourages such suits, going so far as to pay for and promote a “Citizen’s Guide” that, among other things, explains how to sue the agency under “citizen suit” provisions in environmental laws. The guide’s author — the Environmental Law Institute — has received $9.9 million in EPA grants over the past decade.
And, to top it off, critics say the EPA often ends up paying the groups’ legal fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act.
Under the Administrative Procedures Act, an agency like EPA that wants to change or issue a regulation makes a proposal, solicits public comments, theoretically revises the proposal based on those comments, and then publishes the final regulation in the Federal Register. The entire process is intended to be open and transparent.
The “sue and settle” tactic circumvents the process.
An environmental organization can start off in court by claiming that the agency has failed to meet a deadline or has not satisfied some regulatory requirement. The agency then has two choices. It can either challenge the legal action or enter into settlement negotiations.
In the case of an environmentally biased EPA (as opposed to a neutral one), the agency and environmental group reach, what is usually a one-sided agreement and sign a consent decree that is usually accepted by the court.
The tactic offers regulators political cover against public outcry, since they can simply throw their hands up and say “the courts made us do it.” And once the judicial system approves a settlement, getting it overturned is extremely difficult.
According to U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President William Kovacs’ testimony [pdf], EPA has increasingly employed this tactic—at least 16 times in recent years—to institute controversial rules impacting utilities, refineries, and gas drilling regulations.
Moreover, Investor’s Business Daily’s investigation shows just a handful of major environmental outfits that were responsible for more than 3,000 suits against EPA and other government agencies received tens of millions in tax dollars from it over the past decade.
Our regulatory system is out of balance and not getting better. Some fundamental changes are needed. One that could help provide better balance would involve Congressional review and approval of any regulatory proposal or settlement agreement that had a cost exceeding $100 million.