Toxic Avenger: In the War Between the Feds and Texas, EPA Chief Al Armendariz has Science on His Side. Is That Enough?
By Patrick Michels Thursday, Mar 10 2011
I picked out some of my favorite parts.
My favorite quote from this article sums up why Dr. Al is our hope and why Rick Perry, Greg Abbott and their ilk fear him.
“It was interesting to see how difficult it is for common citizens to get meaningful relief, compared to how easy it is for special interests,” Armendariz says, looking back. “I’ve decided that part of my job is to make sure that those people who don’t have lobbyists have someone looking out for them.”
An inside glimpse of the sausage making at the TCEQ:
“It’s unfortunate. The agency, for the most part, is a very scientific organization,” Soward says, but the rhetoric from the top of the agency echoes down the chain of command. “I could get staff to agree with me privately on particular issues and policies, but when the majority of the commissioners took a different position, staff wasn’t about to stick their heads out of the foxholes and get shot at,” Soward says. “It sets the parameters in which the staff can operate.”
Why I pay no attention to–even laugh at–this kind of “reporting.”
“When politicians say things that are clearly erroneous and deserve a response, we will go on the record. But I don’t see a tremendous amount of value in daily having a back and forth argument,” Armendariz says. “I have too many important things to do and a limited period of time.
The truth about that so-called improved Texas air:
While Perry and the TCEQ argue that Texas has made huge strides in its air quality since the state took over regulating industry in 1992, Armendariz says that’s a smokescreen. It’s not state standards, but tighter federal regulations for things like car exhaust that have been responsible for the improvement, he says.
To our endless embarrassment.
“It is bizarre, because we have large state agencies which work on a lot of issues with my staff, hand-in-hand, and we do a lot of work together,” Armendariz continues, “and yet the political leadership of the state of Texas, and the people who are running these agencies will make statements about climate change and greenhouse gases which are completely ignorant of science, and completely ignorant of the facts, and show absolutely no awareness of just some of the basic principles of physics and chemistry. I sometimes wonder how those people can be managing such large, science-driven agencies.
Regarding the Parker County water contamination case (and, again, why I pay no attention to this kind of reporting)
Armendariz says the EPA’s order was based on “a very rigorous set of data” that confirmed the methane was being produced by Range. Range officials told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Armendariz was showboating, and showed his bias when he went on TV to announce the order—a claim they’ve said was bolstered earlier this month, when an e-mail surfaced from Armendariz to a few activists, including Wilson and Schermbeck, letting them know about the “big news” coming up about Range. “Thank you both for helping to educate me on the public’s perspective of these issues. And thank you all for your continued support and friendship,” Armendariz writes.
And, I thank you for this, Dr. Al:
“This is a hundred-year effort, and we’re just barely getting started. What we’re trying to do now is set up a framework that will outlive us all.”