Republicans: Senate should confirm regional EPA officials

The bill comes two weeks after EPA Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz resigned over 2010 comments that prompted outcry among Republicans and oil-and-gas industry groups, who called them a signal of an overzealous agency that unfairly targets companies.

Armendariz quit just days after Inhofe’s office circulated the comments, in which Armendariz compared his strategy for going after companies that run afoul of anti-pollution laws to the way ancient Roman conquerors used terror to keep order. 

“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 said at a meeting in Texas.

“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,” he said.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and White House press secretary Jay Carney said the comments do not reflect EPA’s outlook, and Armendariz — who oversaw oil-and-gas producing states including Oklahoma and Texas — said the same thing, and apologized.

But the remarks nonetheless unleashed a torrent of GOP criticism. While the new bill faces long odds, Inhofe suggested that Republicans will use it as a rallying point for continued criticism of EPA.

“My bill will provide an important opportunity to shine the light on recent EPA actions underway at the regional offices,” Inhofe said. His 20 cosponsors include several members of the Senate GOP leadership team, such as Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

The Daily Caller reported Wednesday that the bill was en route.