Former EPA official, of "crucify" fame, bails from Hill hearing at the last minute

Yesterday, I was pretty excited about today’s scheduled House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, “EPA Priorities and Practices,” at which the former EPA regional administrator Al Armendariz was supposed to appear to explain his unique philosophy of enforcement. But then, all of my hopes were dashed — dashed! — when Energy & Commerce made this announcement late last night:

WASHINGTON, DC – With less than 24 hours until he was scheduled to testify in front of the Energy and Power Subcommittee, former Regional Administrator for EPA Region 6 Al Armendariz has notified the committee that he will not appear at tomorrow’s hearing. Counsel representing Armendariz contacted the committee late this afternoon notifying staff of the cancellation. Armendariz himself had previously agreed to testify after his comments in a controversial online video forced him to resign.

“We are extremely disappointed to hear Dr. Armendariz will no longer be testifying at our hearing tomorrow. Congress and the American people deserve an explanation for the outrageous comments suggesting EPA should ‘crucify’ American energy companies, as well as a fuller understanding of EPA’s actual enforcement priorities and practices that are creating a hostile regulatory environment,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY). “President Obama’s EPA has established a record of abuse in its policies and enforcement practices. Tomorrow’s hearing will continue without Armendariz, and we expect compelling testimony from the other witnesses describing concerns with EPA’s aggressive enforcement and regulatory actions.”

Er, can he do that?Apparently so, explained Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) on local radio this morning — since he’s no longer a government employee, his appearance was voluntary. But why agree to testify in the first place, then? I wonder what could’ve changed his mind. Maybe EPA decided that they just didn’t need any extra headaches, what with the “assault” Sen. Inhofe is waging on the agency. But you know what? I’m glad somebody is “assaulting” (a.k.a., holding accountable) the out-of-control environmental crusaders, since they’ve taken few pains to hide the fact that they are actively trying to force the demise of a huge portion of the American energy market. Montage! Montage!

Comforting that these bureaucrats wield such supreme regulatory authority, isn’t it? Sen. Inhofe is floating a bill that would make EPA regional administrators subject to Senate confirmation — and I would fully support that policy. This governmental body in particular needs a little less independence, a few more checks and balances.

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