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Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, in an attempt to refresh our memory on what happened with the overreach of the EPA, we might remember that it was from this podium, I guess, 2 weeks ago--it was on a Friday that we found out and we had access to a tape that we released to the public. It has been on the TV and everyone has seen it now. It is a tape of the region 6 administrator of the EPA, Mr. Armendariz. At that time, when talking to the regulators who were under his jurisdiction and along with the public at a public meeting that was taking place in Texas, he said:

But as I said, oil and gas is an enforcement priority. ..... 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 let them die on a cross. Everyone would look at that. Then he said:

And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. ..... So, that's our general philosophy.

This is the EPA we are talking about, and this is 1 of 10 of the regulators. This happens to be the region 6 administrator. This regional administrator recently resigned when not only his statement received attention but also following public awareness about the manner in which he initiated the enforcement actions in region 6.

We know about--and I have already mentioned in my previous remarks--the company down in Texas. This company was cited by Armendariz. They are accused of groundwater contamination. They are accused of perhaps misusing hydraulic fracturing. All these were just accusations. But then they sent a letter to them and said we are going to fine you $33,000 a day--$33,000 a day. If we read those letters carefully, we will find out that decision isn't already made, it is not going to start, but to the person who is reading the letter, who receives the letter, they will think, I can stay in business for 30 more days and that is it.

One has to ask the question: How many companies are out there that have received a letter such as this from the EPA and assumed they are going to have to start paying this fine, so they folded up their tent and they quit? This is what they want. They want to put people out of business.

I told the story from this podium about a company in my State of Oklahoma. This was back probably 10 years ago. I received a letter--we had a lumber company in Oklahoma and the president of the lumber company said: I don't know what to do. The EPA has just put us out of business.

I said: What did you do wrong?

He said: I don't think I did anything wrong. He said: I have been selling our used crankcase oil to the same licensed operation for the last 10 years and some of that--this contractor was licensed by the State of Oklahoma and the Federal Government in the County of Tulsa. He said: We have been selling it to the same group, this organization, for 10 years. He said: Some of that has been traced to a site where they have said this came from our used crankcase oil, and they said for that reason you have violated the law and we are going to fine you $5,000 a day.

Now, $5,000 a day, this is to a relatively middle-sized lumber company, Mill Creek Lumber, it is called--and they are still in business today--and that would have put them out of business. I said: Send the letter to me and let me read it. I read it and I told him they are just threatening you and trying to run you out of business.

We have to wonder as to how many companies out there are closed now or out of business because of actions such as this. How many of these companies received a letter such as the operation did down in Texas saying we are going to impose $33,000 a day and, finally, they just fold up their tent and quit? We don't know that. There is no way of knowing. We have invited people from this podium to call and we have received calls from people who have been out of business. This is an intentional effort we are dealing with and have been dealing with for quite some time.

So we introduced today, just a few minutes ago, S. 3053. I have a whole bunch of cosponsors--it looks like about 20 cosponsors--on the bill. What we do is a very simple thing. I have found in my experience in both the House and the Senate that the shorter and simpler we make something, the easier it is to understand. This is a little, small, two-page bill, and all it does is say that anyone who is going to be appointed--or nominated, I should say--as a regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency would have to be appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. We have a list in our laws as to what has to have Senate confirmation. The Administrator of the EPA has to--and she went through that process and that person is Lisa Jackson--but not these 10 regional directors. So we are saying they should be subjected to the same advice and consent of this Senate, and we wouldn't have these kinds of problems. I suspect the Administrator of the EPA did not know what was going on in region 6 with Mr. Armendariz. I will give her the benefit of the doubt that she didn't. In fact, she was very critical of him once we stood here and exposed what was going on.

This will solve the problem. I am going to invite people to join in. We have already introduced it. It is S. 3053. It is one that would force the administrators to be subjected to confirmation by this Senate. Keep in mind that these administrators, these regional administrators, have the power of life and death over many companies in America.

I believe this will solve that problem, and I look forward to passing this bill and having it become law.

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