Republican floats measure calling on official to resign over crucify remarks

Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.) introduced a House resolution Friday calling on an Environmental Protection Agency official to resign over 2010 comments comparing enforcement of clean-air laws to crucifixion.

The resolution marks the latest push by Republicans in Congress to put pressure on EPA Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz to step down amid the firestorm over his comments.

“[T]herefore, be it resolved, that it is the sense of the House of Representatives that Congress considers Mr. Al Armendariz, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator for South Central Region (Region 6), to be not suitable to secure domestic energy development, and, therefore, should immediately resign,” the resolution says.

Republicans have pummeled the EPA over Armendariz’s 2010 comments, arguing that the remarks reflect what the GOP calls EPA’s aggressive campaign against the oil and gas industry.

A steady stream of Republicans have called on Armendariz to resign or be fired. Seven House lawmakers pressed EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to fire Armendariz in a letter Friday.

Armendariz apologized for the comments Thursday, shortly after Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) drew attention to them in a floor speech Wednesday.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson called the comments “disappointing” Friday. But she declined to say whether the official would be fired or face any disciplinary action, saying the agency "will continue to review" the situation.

Inhofe released a 2010 video Wednesday of Armendariz comparing his enforcement philosophy to that of Roman soldiers who crucified villagers in towns they wanted to conquer. He made the comments after calling the oil-and-gas sector 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’m going to tell you what I said,” Armendariz says in the video.

“It is kind of like how the Romans used to conquer the villages in the Mediterranean — they’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere and they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them. Then that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”

Armendariz continued: “And so, you make examples out of people who are, in this case, not complying with the law. You find people who are not complying with the law and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them. There’s a deterrent effect 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.”

The video was removed from YouTube on Friday.

EPA’s enforcement division works with the Department of Justice and other agencies to bring civil and criminal legal actions against companies accused of violating environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.