COMMENTARY | A video has surfaced, published in Weasel Zippers, of an EPA regional administrator named Al Armendariz revealing his strategy for enforcing environmental regulations. Armendariz is harkening back to ancient Rome.
He said his philosophy of enforcement of environmental regulations against oil and gas companies was, "kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean: They'd go into little Turkish towns somewhere, they'd find the first five guys they'd run into, and they'd crucify them."
Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., noted that soon after Armendariz made those remarks, the EPA attempted to come down hard on natural gas producers in Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming, claiming their use of hydraulic fracking was contaminating ground water in those three states. The claims were, at best, premature and not supported by any evidence.
While Inhofe is demanding an investigation, Armendariz has apologized, according to the Daily Caller. But the message has been sent. Oil and gas companies are the meddlesome, rebellious natives in the provinces. The EPA is the equivalent of the Roman legions, a relentless killing machine that enforced the Pax Romana for hundreds of years.
Unlike the EPA, the legions would do this also by building things, like roads, canals and aqueducts. If the EPA had been extant in ancient Rome, the paperwork alone would have tied up the building of Hadrian's Wall, for example, for decades.
Leaving aside Armendariz's fractured history - there were no Turks in the Roman Empire - his use of the crucifixion metaphor is more than a little arresting. Jesus Christ was, after all, nailed to a cross, as was Saint Peter. One doubts that he meant for Exxon-Mobil to be the equivalent of the early Christians.
Writers have been musing about the "Imperial Presidency" since FDR grabbed a lot of power in order to mishandle the Great Depression. But in the EPA we seem to have an imperial bureaucracy, quite willing and able to run roughshod over everyone else, taking an attitude like that of a Roman Proconsul; cross us and the peace we make of you will be a desert.
Armendariz needs to be made an example of. He needs to be fired and returned to the private sector. Using the ancient Roman metaphor he might appreciate, he needs to fall on his sword for his indiscretion.