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More E-Mails From the EPA

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Senator David Vitter has been digging into the nomination of Gina McCarthy to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, and has uncovered some more troubling e-mails demonstrating the EPA’s grudge against the oil and gas industry:

U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.) released today the latest evidence gathered from an ongoing congressional investigation into improper and potentially illegal activities by senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In today’s release, Vitter provides copies of correspondence between former EPA Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz and top agency lawyers that link the Obama administration’s current nominee, Gina McCarthy, to a seemingly coordinated strategy to punish oil and gas producers and harm the coal industry. In the email, Armendariz, who currently leads the “Beyond Coal” campaign at the Sierra Club, states that he is “extremely proud of the work that [EPA has] done collectively. Gina [McCarthy's] new air rules will soon be the icing on the cake, on an issue I worked on years before my current job.”

Recall that this is the same Armendariz who resigned after comments he made about the oil and gas industry became public:

As for Armendariz, he lost his job after a video of comments he made in 2010 surfaced last year. In the video, he was discussing strategies to bring oil and gas companies that were skirting rules to comply with federal regulations.

He compared the strategies with ancient Roman armies going to conquer small villages and executing the first five people they saw in order to quell the villages into submission.

“And so you make examples out of people who are, in this case, not compliant with the law,” Armendariz said in the video. “Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can, and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there.

Vitter seems determined to find out whether Gina McCarthy shares Armendariz’s desire to attack the oil and gas industry:

“It appears there’s a collective strategy at the EPA to punish energy producers, but also an effort towards ‘shaming the states,’” Vitter said in the announcement of Tuesday’s letter to McCarthy. “The EPA’s nominee, Gina McCarthy, created a rule that was apparently the ‘icing on the cake’ to this shocking strategy. If she wants to become the administrator, an immediate and fully transparent response to this is absolutely necessary.”

Vitter has called outgoing EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, of New Orleans, the worst ever in her job.

The EPA did not respond to media requests for comment on Tuesday afternoon.

Republicans on Vitter’s committee have investigated Armendariz, as well as the alleged use of private email addresses by EPA employees to conduct business to avoid government transparency. The EPA has denied that Jackson and others have used private email address in violation of internal employee standards.

It’s certainly a question worth asking.

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