Al Armendariz, the recently ousted EPA administrator for Region 6, has a new mission which he intends to carry out in his new capacity at the Austin, Texas, office of the Sierra Club. It involves what technology should be permitted to generate power in Texas.
Armendariz will work on the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal project, according to the Texas Tribune. It is the position of the Sierra Club that coal-fired power plants cause a degree of pollution that is unacceptable to the environment and public health and therefore should be abolished as soon as possible, to be replaced with clean energy technology such as solar and wind power. The Sierra Club intends to accomplish this goal by stirring up public pressure to prevent the approval of coal-fired plants and to retire existing coal fired plants.
Armendariz inveighs against Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and the coal industry
In an interview in the Texas Tribune, Armendariz had some pointed words about the Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has filed law suits in federal court to stop the EPA's efforts to regulate the power industry in Texas. The former EPA official suggested that Abbott's efforts are futile and that he should turn his attention to other areas.
Armendariz reserved most of his ire for the coal industry, however. He accused that industry of destroying communities, poisoning the environment, and causing climate change. Hence he is enthusiastic about his new job at the Sierra Club to campaign against the coal industry.
Armendariz on natural gas
Armendariz, in his Texas Tribune interview, acknowledged that the abundant availability and low prices of natural gas have contributed to a move away from coal-fired power generation. However he expressed reservations about natural gas production, especially through use of fracking, a process that forces natural gas to the surface through the injection of fluids. He suggested that natural gas should be used as little as possible and that the emphasis should be on what he terms renewable energy, such as wind and solar power.
Why Armendariz left the EPA
Armendariz's career at the EPA ended when a video surfaced of him describing his enforcement philosophy, which he described as being similar to that employed by the Roman legions to suppress rebellions in the provinces, according to the Heritage Foundation. The idea was, just as the Romans would obliterate a village and crucify the survivors to make an example, that the EPA would come down hard on a designated company to put the fear of the government in the rest. This video resulted in calls for an investigation by EPA critics such as Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Armendariz's eventual departure from the EPA.
Texas resident Mark Whittington writes about state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network .