- - Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The April 30 resignation of Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Al Armendariz after he was caught telling the truth - that he wants to “crucify” companies he claims don’t comply with environmental laws - will do nothing to slow the Obama administration’s senseless war on fossil fuels. Mr. Armendariz, the top EPA official for Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, said in a 2010 videotaped speech, which attracted notice only a few days ago, that he once told his staff about his “philosophy of enforcement” by using what he called a “crude analogy.”

“It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean,” Mr. Armendariz said in the video. “They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw, and they’d crucify them. And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”

Mr. Armendariz said, “You make examples out of people who are, in this case, not complying with the law … and you hit them as hard as you can” to act as a “deterrent” to others.

Those are certainly inflammatory words, and it’s understandable that Mr. Armendariz resigned after his 2-year-old comments drew criticism from both Republicans and Democrats. Even EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said Mr. Armendariz’s belated apology was warranted and that his “comments were disappointing.”

But the most important issue that the Armendariz speech raises shouldn’t be his poor choice of words. It should be the Obama administration’s poor choice of policies supporting a war on fossil fuels that is hurting American consumers, America’s workers, America’s economy and America’s national security.

Mr. Armendariz accurately and candidly described the EPA’s war on fossil fuels. He had to backpedal after his remarks were broadcast, but President Obama and the EPA aren’t backpedaling on the policies that Mr. Armendariz carried out and defended.

The anti-fossil-fuels policies of the Obama administration demonize the proven, reliable and efficient petroleum fuels and petrochemicals that keep America moving and make modern life possible. The extraction of oil and natural gas and the manufacture of fuels and petrochemicals support more than 9 million American jobs, generate more than $31 billion a year in federal taxes and protect national security.

Unfortunately, Mr. Obama has pursued a policy of overregulation that brings little or no environmental benefit and continually tries to raise energy taxes on oil and refined petroleum products, natural gas and coal to increase the costs of fossil fuels. His rationale is to make it easier for biofuels, wind power, solar power, electric vehicles and other “alternatives” that receive billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to gain customers, even though many of the “alternatives” are unpopular and plagued with problems.

Before he took office, Mr. Obama said energy prices would “skyrocket” under his policies. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said before he took office that he wanted gasoline prices to rise sharply so that Americans would use less gasoline. They got their wish.

With the election coming up, the president and his energy secretary are changing their rhetoric, just as Mr. Armendariz did, but not their anti-fossil-fuels policies.

Despite Mr. Obama’s repeated claims that America is energy-poor, our country is blessed with energy riches. The United States is sitting on vast supplies of oil and natural gas, and more is available from our good friend and neighbor Canada - enough to meet America’s energy needs for generations.

Yet the president is blocking construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring more than 800,000 barrels of oil each day from Canada, Montana and North Dakota to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. He is barring exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas along most of our shores and in vast stretches of federal lands.

Mr. Obama’s EPA also adds billions of dollars to energy costs with a blizzard of often-conflicting regulations that are at times impossible to achieve without violating other regulations.

The president claims credit for increased oil and natural gas production in the United States. But the increased production was on private and state lands. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says that last year, oil and natural gas production from federal lands and waters fell - a 14 percent drop for oil and an 11 percent dropfor natural gas.

What’s needed is a cease-fire in the war on fossil fuels and a policy that will use America’s treasure trove of energy resources to benefit the American people.

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