By Ben Geman - 06/05/12 10:57 PM EDT
Al Armendariz, the former regional Environmental Protection Agency official who ignited a firestorm by comparing enforcement of environmental laws to crucifixion, will not be testifying as planned before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday, committee sources told The Hill.
Armendariz, who was administrator of EPA's Region 6, resigned in late April over the 2010 comments, which surfaced earlier that month. He had been slated to appear before a committee panel for a hearing on EPA’s enforcement priorities.
In 2010, Armendariz compared his strategy for going after companies that run afoul of environmental laws to practices of the ancient Romans.
“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.
His 2010 remarks drew widespread attacks from Republicans, who cited them are evidence of an overzealous government agency.
Republicans on the Energy Committee said they are "disappointed" that Armendariz will be a no-show.
“Congress and the American people deserve an explanation for the outrageous comments suggesting EPA should ‘crucify’ American energy companies, as well as a fuller understanding of EPA’s actual enforcement priorities and practices that are creating a hostile regulatory environment,” panel Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) said in a joint statement.
“President Obama’s EPA has established a record of abuse in its policies and enforcement practices. Tomorrow’s hearing will continue without Armendariz, and we expect compelling testimony from the other witnesses describing concerns with EPA’s aggressive enforcement and regulatory actions,” they said.
— This story was updated at 7:13 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.