Ex-EPA official who made 'crucify' remark to testify before Congress

The EPA regional official who recently resigned over 2010 comments that compared enforcement of anti-pollution laws to crucifixion will testify before a House panel on June 6.

Al Armendariz, the former EPA Region 6 chief whose comments ignited a torrent of GOP and industry criticism, will appear at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing about EPA enforcement priorities and practices, a committee spokeswoman said.

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The hearing will provide a high-profile forum for GOP criticism of an agency that’s already in the crosshairs of Republicans, who called the remarks a sign that EPA unfairly targets companies.

Armendariz — a political appointee who oversaw oil- and gas-producing states such as Texas and Oklahoma — quit in late April, a few days after his controversial comments surfaced.

He is appearing voluntarily at the hearing of the Energy and Power subcommittee, the spokeswoman said. Committee Republicans, shortly before his resignation, called for him to testify and had suggested they might seek a subpoena to compel the appearance.

Armendariz, at a 2010 meeting in Texas, compared his strategy for going after companies that run afoul of environmental 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 that meeting.

“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 said the same and also apologized.