The Tip of the Iceberg at EPA

The Tip of the Iceberg at EPA

Replacing one bad apple won't help the barrel much when the other apples are just about as bad.

That's the sad state of affairs it seems when it comes to the Environmental Protection Agency these days.

The recent resignation of Al Armendariz, the regional EPA director responsible for Arkansas and four other states, doesn't change the track record of this administration when it comes to the energy industry in this country. That record is abysmal. The result is a stagnating economy, the lack of good new energy jobs and our nation's continued unhealthy reliance on foreign oil.

Armendariz's resignation came following the revelation that he compared controlling and punishing the energy industry with crucifixions by Roman armies. In describing his philosophy of enforcement, he told how the Romans would enter a village and "find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years."

First of all, this is simply an unacceptable attitude from a public servant. Ignoring the ugliness of crucifixion, we still should expect respect and fair treatment, even from a government regulator. There is too much of the "gotcha" attitude around today, but the better among us will rise above that childish behavior.

Armendariz has lost his position (although he will survive quite nicely, I'm sure, back teaching at Southern Methodist University). I worry though about how our nation will meet our energy needs and improve our economy with the continuing negative attitude toward the energy industry.

We've seen energy policies from this administration that seek to raise roadblocks to the exploration and production of domestic energy. This in spite of the fact that in his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama called for the end of nonsensical and outdated regulations.

But despite these words, the Keystone XL pipeline faces continuing challenges. This project would not only create thousands of good American jobs, but it also would provide our Gulf Coast refineries with oil and provide our country with North American energy.

The administration apparently sees American energy companies as an excellent source of government revenue, otherwise called taxes. It wants to end a tax credit for energy companies that create new jobs. Just who in this administration is going to tell the unemployed that its taking away incentives that would put them back to work?

Another administration proposal would impose double taxes on American energy companies, putting them at a distinct disadvantage when competing on the world market. China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Nicaragua, and OPEC nations sure aren't proposing to double-tax their energy companies.

These higher taxes would hurt Americans in many ways. Higher taxes would mean higher prices at the gas pump. And who are those oil company owners who would suffer? Well, the vast majority of shareholders of American energy companies are public and private pension funds, IRA accounts, mutual funds - investments that millions of us are relying on for our retirements and future income.

What this country needs is a new approach - a change in attitude toward energy companies. It's no longer acceptable to have a "we vs. them" outlook. We need to work together to put Americans back to work, to get this economy growing, and to reduce our reliance on foreign oil.

It will take more than one personnel change at EPA to make this happen.

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