EPA official resigns after ‘crucify’ comment outcry

Al Armendariz, the Environmental Protection Agency official at the center of a budding scandal surrounding a 2010 video in which he said the EPA should "crucify" polluters, has resigned.

Armendariz, head of the EPA's South Central region in Dallas, sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson late Sunday informing her of his decision to step down.

"As I have expressed publicly, and to you directly, I regret comments I made several years ago that do not in any way reflect my work as regional administrator," he wrote. "As importantly, they do not represent the work you have overseen as E.P.A. administrator."

Samuel Coleman, who served as the EPA's senior federal official in New Orleans during the agency's response to Hurricane Katrina, will replace Armendariz as acting administrator.

Republicans, already critical of what they call the Obama administration's war on energy, seized upon the video when it surfaced last week, calling for Armendariz to resign.

According to the Associated Press, Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe led the charge, pointing to Armendariz's May 2010 speech as proof of the "EPA's assault on energy, particularly the technique of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking." Inhofe's office uploaded the clip, shown above, to YouTube.

Armendariz was appointed regional chief by President Barack Obama in 2009.

But "before SMU prof Al Armendariz had even warmed the seat at his post as EPA regional chief," Brantley Hargrove wrote in the Dallas Observer, "he was pilloried as an activist whose research into the air pollution caused by fracking operations made him unfit to run a five-state office overseeing some of the industry's most important drilling grounds."

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