By Ben Geman - 06/06/12 08:21 PM EDT
“I think we really accomplished a lot at our hearing today without him,” Whitfield said, noting that other witnesses at the forum had experience with Region 6, the area that Armendariz oversaw before resigning. “I am not sure that he would add anything that would really be beneficial to us at this point.”
However, Whitfield added that Republicans plan to send a letter to EPA and perhaps the White House asking if they played any role in the decision by Armendariz not to testify.
An EPA spokeswoman told E2 Wednesday that the agency "did not advise him on whether or not to testify."
Armendariz quit in late April just days after 2010 comments surfaced in which he 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 a videotaped 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.
Armendariz, a political appointee, oversaw a five-state region that included oil-and-gas-producing states such as Texas and Oklahoma.
His 2010 remarks, which surfaced in April, drew widespread attacks from Republicans, who cited them as evidence of an overzealous government agency that unfairly targets energy producers.
Armendariz apologized for the remarks, and he, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and the White House said they weren’t consistent with the agency’s enforcement strategy.
While Whitfield said Republicans probably won’t seek to compel testimony, they were more aggressive in calling for an appearance when his comments initially surfaced.
Committee Republicans, in an April 27 letter to Armendariz (sent before he resigned), said the panel is “prepared to use all authorities at its disposal to ensure your attendance.”