Al Armendariz, Ousted EPA Chief, Leads Sierra Club's Drive to Chase Customers from TXU
Every week, managing editor Patrick Williams disappears into his office and reemerges a cranky, nicotine-addicted, third-person-referring superhero we like to call Buzz.
Al Armendariz left the EPA, not the fight.
Let's kick this off with a couple of truisms: It's hard to keep a good man down, and be careful what you wish for.
We're looking at you, friends of fossil fuels and foes of the Environmental Protection Agency. Y'all were feeling pretty pleased with yourselves last April when you bagged Al Armendariz, then administrator of the EPA's South Central Region, which includes Texas. That's when Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma got his hands on a 2-year-old video of Armendariz explaining his enforcement philosophy. Talking about how to make the best use of the EPA's limited resources, he compared the process to the Roman practice of crucifixion: Nail up a few guys right away when you conquer a village and the rest of the natives get accommodating.
OK, so it was a fair takedown by the right. You can't say words like that and survive as a appointed bureaucrat. (Only elected politicians can be that honest, unfortunately they seldom choose to be so.) The right rejoiced. Armendariz was no longer in the government.
He was, however, free to say and do whatever the hell he pleased, like take charge of the Texas portion of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, those litigious warriors against coal-fired power plants. This month, the Texas campaign unveiled a new, unique effort that specifically targets North Texas' Energy Future Holdings, one that basically encourages a consumer boycott of the financially troubled company's retail electric arm, TXU. At beyondtxu.org and on Facebook, the Sierra Club is urging customers to switch electric companies, thus pressuring EFH to shutter two coal-fired plants.
Now, consumer boycotts of massive private businesses are not the sort of thing government bureaucrats generally encourage. But Armendariz isn't a government employee anymore, is he? That's our point.
Environment and energy are serious subjects, so Buzz felt compelled to call up Armendariz and ask him a serious question about this new campaign: "So are you all like, 'How you like me now, bitches?'"
Yeah, we are and always be 12 emotionally. Armendariz is, sadly, more grown up.
He laughed. "No. I wouldn't characterize it like that."
He really wouldn't. We tried hard to get him to. But Armendariz understands that the stakes of climate change, clean air and water supplies go beyond his own career. "I'm proud of what we're doing, but it's not because of anything personal," he said. In fact, Armendariz, who has a background in the gas industry, said his personal contacts with industry folks were not that bad when he was with the EPA. The politicians and trade industry lobbyists were the pot-stirrers. (That's how they get paid, but then, that's how Buzz gets paid, too.)
So Armendariz wouldn't crow, but that doesn't mean we can't. Hey, Jim Inhofe, remember that other old saying about tents, pissing and the proper placement of your foes? No? Look it up, pal.