Today Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) sent a letter to the EPA Inspector General asking for an investigation into unfair enforcement actions by the EPA, after comments by former EPA Region VI Administrator Dr. Al Armendariz came to light. In those remarks, Dr. Armendariz compared his philosophy on enforcement of his agency's policies to Roman crucifixion practices and suggested that the EPA should target energy companies to make examples of them.
"These comments suggest that the culture of the Environmental Protection Agency values bullying and threatening companies," said Rep. David B. McKinley. "Energy producers provide millions of American jobs and drive our economy. They should expect fairer treatment than the modern day equivalent of public crucifixion. I hope the EPA will look into their internal culture and practices and root out these anti-energy sentiments."
Read the complete letter to Arthur A. Elkins, Jr. below:
May 2, 2012
The Honorable Arthur A. Elkins, Jr.
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20460
Dear Mr. Elkins,
Along with many other Americans, I was outraged at the remarks made by former EPA Region VI Administrator Dr. Al Armendariz. His comments from May 2010, in which he compared his philosophy on enforcement of his agency's policies to Roman crucifixion practices, are simply beyond the pale. After public outcry, Dr. Armendariz resigned on April 29 without facing Members of Congress in a formal public hearing regarding his enforcement practices.
With this recent controversy in mind, I am requesting that you investigate the actions by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, her Assistant Administrators, and Regional Administrators against coal, gas and oil companies. Part of the mission of the EPA's Office of Inspector General is to "inspire public confidence by preventing and detecting fraud, waste, and abuse in Agency operations and protecting the integrity of EPA programs."
Dr. Armendariz's comments have seriously undermined public confidence in the EPA and its treatment of energy producers. Energy companies employ millions of Americans and provide the energy our country depends, and it's inappropriate for a high-ranking EPA official to treat them with such a heavy hand in order to affect and/or intimidate others.
At the heart of my concern is determining whether this was just a rogue bureaucrat or symptomatic of a broader culture and philosophy at the EPA. If the Administrator's comments are indicative of the general enforcement philosophy of the Agency, that is clearly a problem. The EPA should enforce the law, not "make examples out of people" or "put some financial pressure on a company" as Dr. Armendariz recommended.
In your role as Inspector General, I hope you will investigate this matter to the full extent of your authority. I would encourage you to focus on:
· Enforcement strategies and procedures for Region 6, along with all other Regions, including any changes to those strategies and procedures since January 2009;
· The standards the EPA uses to measure the success of its enforcement efforts, and how those standards have changed since January 2009;
· Communications between Regional offices and EPA headquarters regarding enforcement strategies and procedures since January 2009;
· Documents relating to coordination between EPA and other offices within the Executive Branch regarding EPA enforcement strategies and procedures since January 2009; and
· Communications between EPA and third parties regarding EPA enforcement strategies and procedures since January 2009.
I would also encourage you to investigate instances where the EPA initiated enforcement action against companies, only to drop it later, as it did with Range Resources recently. I am concerned that a strategy of punish first, ask questions later, has hurt companies by causing them to incur legal and compliance expenses for no valid reason.
In the course of your study if you were to identify inappropriate actions by EPA officials causing damages to American firms, would you also please provide recommendations for compensation or other remedial actions by the government on behalf of the aggrieved firm?
Based on the outrageous and inflammatory comments by now former EPA Administrator Al Armendariz and allegations in the media of other questionable techniques used by the EPA to intimidate American businesses, a thorough investigation using the key aspects listed above is warranted.
Thank you for your attention to this matter, and I look forward to your timely response.
David B. McKinley, P.E.
Member of Congress