Analysis: Bush's EPA tougher on oil-and-gas companies than Obama's

The news service looks at the data in light of the firestorm that erupted around Al Armendariz, the senior EPA regional official who resigned in late April over 2010 comments in Texas comparing his enforcement strategy to crucifixion.

Armendariz will appear before a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel June 6. Click here and here for some of E2’s recent coverage of the former Region 6 administrator.

AP which reported Wednesday:

Armendariz' territory, which also includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma, has more oil and gas wells than any of EPA's nine other regions. But the number of enforcement cases against companies working those wells has been lower every year under Obama than any year under Bush.

That trend extends to the rest of the country, where the number of enforcement actions against oil and gas producers dropped by 61 percent over the past decade, from 224 in 2002 to 87 last year. The decline came despite an increase in the number of producing wells and despite the EPA's listing of energy extraction as an enforcement priority under Obama. So far this year, the administration has filed 51 formal enforcement cases against energy producers.

The piece is far from the last word on GOP and industry criticism of the agency.

As AP notes in the story, much of critics’ problems with EPA surround regulations they consider too aggressive and costly, not just decisions about enforcement of environmental laws.

But E2 nonetheless predicts that Democrats will cite the AP story at the hearing with Armendariz to counter GOP criticisms of the agency’s enforcement policies.