We lost a battle. But remember this is a war, as the industry declared, and we will not lose the war. There will be casualties but we will win in the end because they will continue to follow the recipe. It’s the only way they know.
“If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”Obi Wan
Statement of Sharon Wilson (Texas Sharon),
Earthworks’ Gulf Regional Organizer, on the resignation of
EPA Region 6 Administrator Dr. Al Armendariz
April 30, 2012, Allen, TX — “When EPA Region 6 Administrator Dr. Al Armendariz resigned today, drilling-impacted communities lost a champion in the fight to improve the fracking industry’s lamentable track record of sacrificing community health and clean water for the sake of maximizing corporate profits.
Dr. Armendariz exemplified much of what an environmental regulator should be: expert on the issues, and concerned for the public and the environment before all else — not to the exclusion of all else, but before all else. In other words, he exemplified the very reason the Environmental Protection Agency exists.
His resignation is regrettable for more than just the public’s loss of an effective regulator. It is regrettable because it may signal a premature end of what is a much-needed public conversation about what effective environmental enforcement is.
Dr. Armendariz was persecuted for using the word “crucify.” Stripped of religious phraseology, the statement for which he was forced to resign boils down to this:
If a person breaks the law, they must be punished so that other persons are deterred from breaking laws in the future.
His statement is the essence of the justification behind most criminal penalties. Especially in Texas, that argument amounts to holy writ when it comes to punishing criminal persons… except, apparently, in cases when the criminal person happens to be a corporation.”
Earthworks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the impacts of irresponsible mineral and energy development while seeking sustainable solutions.
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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Tim Ruggiero says
This makes my heart hurt. I have no doubt that this was not an easy decision for Dr. Al, but I’m also sure that he felt it was the best thing to do. I’m extremely disappointed with Lisa Jackson. She should have immediately come to the defense of the EPA and certainly Dr. Armendariz. But, like most politicians, she believes in self-preservation, apparently.
Those of us on the front lines owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dr. Armendariz and all his efforts the last few years. It’s not easy job by any stretch, and more so when encumbered by political traps every step of the way.
So, all of you Drill Here, Drill Now, Screw Y’All folks that will undoubtedly celebrate this, enjoy it while it lasts. We will still be watching you, photographing and videotaping, and taking the fight directly to you. Yes, this is a war, and you declared it on us. We will NEVER give in, we will not falter,and we will not fail. Might I remind you, that even Goliath was taken down with but a single stone, and from a young boy.
I also should warn you that now that Dr. Armendariz is no longer handcuffed by politics, he very well may become much more dangerous to you that think you are above the law.
Lisa Jackson was willing to fight for him. The decision was his and his alone.
Alan Septoff says
This was a political decision over Lisa Jackson’s head, I would wager. Jackson’s EPA has gone looking for fights with the fracking industry on multiple occasions.
Any time you have the president’s press secretary talking about the behavior of a bureaucrat — unless it’s with regard to the state of the union — it’s bad news for sad bureaucrat.
Whoever made the call (and Dr. Al can protest all he wants about how the decision was his, but I’m not buying it), it was political cowardice pure and simple. This was an opportunity for Obama’s EPA to champion “environmentally responsible gas extraction” that Obama promised.
Instead, they made more clear than ever exactly whose interests they are currently serving.
Okay, yeah. I completely agree with this. The Obama administration caves in again to the GOP.
Yep. Been there, done that. Now it’s the feds instead of the county, the state, etc. There’s a reason that those who stay in office stay in office, and it’s not because they’re courageous.
Alan Septoff says
* “said” not “sad”
Kim Feil says
Watch the media not give this but a passing glance.
Kim Feil says
The real story behind all of this is that the EPA stepped in when the state and the Railroad Commission wouldn’t protect a family from huge methane amounts escaping from their water well in Parker County “after” fracking came into the area. Smokescreen at its best, but rest assured the public sees through this. That the verdict did not implicate the driller is yet another sign of the times where big oil throws their fossil fuel dinosaur weight around…its only because they are absolutely threatened by the momentum of folks wanting energy choices that are not mucking up our air and water that they went after Dr Al.
Tim Ruggiero says
As the old saying goes, be careful of what you wish for, you just might get it. That’s message I hope Industry hears,as it looks like Industry just gave us a powerful new soldier. They have no idea what they have done.
Tim Ruggiero says
You’re not only getting way ahead of the conversation, you’re attempting to change the topic. If it were my blog, I would be happy to let you continue to comment, but only after you answer the questions I have posed that you have failed to even acknowledge, much more answer. You’re at least two topics behind, Mike.
Well—-so much for help from the EPA–it’s a looser now! I have NO CONFIDENCE in the org. now. So we have nothing at the RRC, almost nothing at the TCEQ, and now nothing at the EPA. All we can do is inform and suffer.
Looks like the Feds are sucking the behinds of the Gas Holes and propping up oil prices to over $100 and saddling the peasants with $4.00 gasoline prices. Looks like this bunch in office now is no better than a bunch of GOP’s.
Maybe Dr. Al will now be able to inform us about how that EPA is really bought off–and how our tax money is being wasted there!
Ben Lungren says
Tx sharon and devoted followers:
It’s time to end the divisive and destructive assault on domestic O&G development. I understand your agenda, and agree in spirit with your end goal (assuming it truly is environmental protection). Unfortunately, you are the reason for big Al’s downfall. If it weren’t for the relentless assault on O&G , in spite of truly responsible efforts on their part, there wouldn’t be the great divide where industry (and 9 mil Americans employed) are pitted against radical enviros.
The YEE HAW moment provided the first round of ammo, the crucify moment sealed his fate.
LISTEN UP, you won’t get anything done being ati-everything all the time. Time to grow up, educate yourselves, and join the constructive dialogue. Tx sharon i recommend you stay as far away from the new admin as possible. You are no longer part of the solution- your compounding the problem.
Thanks for that advice.
Tim Ruggiero says
Ben: Not one of us is anti-everything. We’re anti-being poisoned and anti-being lied to. Not sure what your background is, but most or all of the people that visit Sharon’s blog and/or make comments have been a victim to one degree or another by your beloved Industry. Industry spends millions and millions each and every year justifying what it that they do. If you look at any of the full page ads in national newspapers, or watch and listen carefully the words used, you’ll notice there’s not much in the way of advertising as so much justifying and promoting what Industry does. Job creation, reduction on foreign oil, and on and on.
Of course, Industry only tells half the story at best. Exxon’s Artis Brown says that the crude being extracted from the (Canadian) Tar Sands burns almost nearly as clean as other oil. Even if that were true, which I suppose it could be, the extraction method is anything but that, and the amount of pollution it creates in the process by far outweighs any possible benefit.
So, in an effort to have a ;constructive’ dialogue, perhaps you could shed some light on, and educate me on exactly the “responsible efforts’ are, and what long list of companies are being that? Mike Knapp, a Landman, chimed in not too long ago on another post, and stated something very similar. In response to my questions about the need for ‘regulation’, he responded with “The overwhelming majority of operators already go far and beyond the regulations here in PA. Regulations aren’t for those companies. They’re to make sure that EVERYONE plays by the rules.”
He failed to answer my question asking who those operators were that he’s referring to. Maybe its such a long list, he’s still compiling it. So I’ll ask of you as well, since you seem to be of similar thinking: Please name the operators who you see as making “Truly responsible efforts”? To save some time, please don’t bother with naming CHK, Range Resources, Cabot, Exxon/XTO or Devon. They have all gone out of their way to repeatedly demonstrate they cannot be trusted.
Ben Lungren says
Are you too indignant to truly consider? Leaders don’t divide…they bring people together. People on opposite sides. Now, unless your blog is a place for useless rants, you should consider how you can truly affect change. The divisive approach isnt working.
Poor Ben doesn’t under stand what blogs are for. Yes when you have useless rants by commenters such as Ben, they are useless. Perhaps Ben should start his own blog for “Biologist that love GAS”.
Blogs give voice to opposing opinions that otherwise would never be heard in this corporate media environment.
My proof that blogging about Fracking and Gasland have made a BIG difference. Statics on Google searches for Fracking.
The ratio of searches on Google for Fracking vs everything else has grown exponentially since 2010:
The people all over the world have become aware of Fracking and they don’t like what they find out.
-Ben save your manure for the garden.
It’s time to end the divisive and destructive assault on the public by domestic O&G development. I understand your agenda (Greed , Greed, and more Greed). Unfortunately, you are the reason for big Al’s downfall. If it weren’t for the relentless assault on the public by O&G urban drilling , in spite of truly responsible efforts by the public , there wouldn’t be the great divide where the public (291 mil Americans) are pitted against radical mining procedures for profit at any cost.
LISTEN UP, you won’t get anything done being anti-environment, anti-health, ant-regulation all the time. Time to grow up, educate yourselves, and join the constructive dialogue about the negative impacts urban drilling.
Ben ‘ole buddy—When you have been run from your home because of gas drilling/production—it changes your attitude, it did mine. Don’t ever expect me to join in with the gas holes in any way what-so-ever! Goodby!!!!!!!
Ben Lungren says
Geez! You guys are nuts! I am a biologist, conservationist, sportsman. O&G is not my “beloved industry”. Listen, think obejectively here. If drilling is going to continue to occur at the rate that it is… which it will…we should make it more environmentally friendly.
You can take Al’s approach and try to rule through fear and initmidation, or you can be more subtle and encourage with incentive and positive reinforcement. How would you train your kids?
There are good people out there, you might call they gasholes, working to improve the way things are done in Industry. Did you know that most of the wells drilled in Texas are by small independnt companies? (97%)… Did you know that most independents have less than 15 employees and file as independants? Did you know that an average oil field hand, supports an average of 4 people, and is responsible for around 2 indirect jobs like waitresses and hotel managers?
Still want to kill the oil and gas industry? How about we change the oil and gas industry.
Change doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen by crucifying the enemy. Look at the current political situation outside of Region VI. Open your eyes.
If you want your arguements to have legitimacy, you have to drop the insane rhetoric and show some objectivity.
Thanks! Subtlety, that’s the key. Dang! I wish I’d known.
Ben lungren says
TX is that all that sunk in? There is still time! Please re-read
I get it that you disagree with me. I disagree with you. Get it?
Ben ‘ole buddy–which wonderful O&G company are you associated with?? Keep preaching the company line–I’ll chuckle and remember that I know your ways!!
While the TRRC was working hard to get rid of Dr. Al, like their Commissioners writing letters to Pres. Obama, stating how fracking will make the US energy independent (while massive efforts to export US gas by LNG are underway), this was in the news:
Report Finds Pipeline Oversight Wanting
Nothing about TRRC being the best of the state agencies watching pipelines. I do hear LOTS of spin that if people stop digging into pipeline, there would be no pipeline failures.
WRONG! Corrosion of all types (external, internal, stress corrosion cracking), & “misoperation” of pipelines (like pumping against a closed valve), still cause plenty of pipeline accidents.
Nothing about leaning harder on pipeline companies that don’t respond to 811 requests. With large chunks of Texas laced with pipelines, this should not be allowed at all. If someone gets maimed or killed for a pipeline’s failure to respond to 811, someone should go to jail for negligence.
Mike Knapp, Ben Lungren, & Ed Ireland, have any comments on this one? I’m not saying not to have pipelines, just make those that run them take care of them, & respond to 811.
Or, like Sharon said, suck less.
“A senior Obama administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, told The Associated Press that Armendariz has received death threats since the video surfaced.”
I think the problem stems from the fact that the Obama administration is very pro Gas! We have only one alternative—-RUN from the gas patch, RUN,RUN,RUN. And, RUN fast. You can’t have quality residential living in the gas patch. Oh, and BTW, I hope that they drill a gas well on the lawn of the White House to show us how good it is.
Change can’t happen until industry admits it’s necessary, and those of us in the gas patch aren’t going to wait indefinitely and we certainly aren’t going to shut up and play nice, like the good little insurgents we are. Many a canary in this proverbial mine have lost too much. Nothing trumps my health, my property value and my quality of life — certainly not corporate interests. Those of us who can afford to leave, will. Those of us who cannot, we will stay and endure and bring light to the reality of how irresponsible extraction is ruining air, water and health. How many of your children’s nosebleeds and headaches are you willing to donate, apologists? Are you comfortable with neurotoxins in your blood? Will you happily take a loss in whatever equity you have in your home in the name of “energy independence?” (Asia’s energy independence, incidentally.) Please. These ARE the objective, empirical facts of life in the gas patch. As Aldous Huxley said, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
Mike Knapp says
Your health, your property value, and your quality life are directly tied to oil and natural gas. Remember what the life expectancy was before the industrial revolution? What the quality of life was? Our entire society is built on oil and gas.
It makes our electricity, it heats and cools our homes, it powers our transportation, it cooks our food and keeps it sanitary, it creates our fertilizers, it’s the feedstock for almost all industrial and manufacturing activities (which is what makes, well… everything) it powers our communication infrastructure, it makes available all of the advanced devices in our hospitals.
And with natural gas, we’re cleaning up the air (300 million tons of GHG’s were removed from the atmosphere because of natural gas). About the carbon footprint of Pennsylvania. Not to mention reductions in Mercury, Arsenic, Barium, NOx, SOx, and particulate matter.
The minute and temporary impact in the immediate vicinity of natural gas drilling is a pittance compared to the macro-level improvements to the environment. And if you want to whine to me about impacts on the community, come live where I live.. in the heart of COAL COUNTRY. We’ve long been sacrificing for the benefit of the country.
Mike, your condescending tone noted and disregarded, all I am advocating for is RESPONSIBLE EXTRACTION via drilling best practices reform. Stop whining about regulation.