Thursday, April 26, 2012

They're Gonna Crucify You

“kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean: they’d go into little Turkish towns somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they’d run into, and they’d crucify them.”

“That town was really easy to manage for the next few years,” Armendariz added.
Ann Althouse, explains that this is just an analogy, certainly you don't have a problem with that.

Armendariz, in his now mandatory semi-apology...
"I apologize to those I have offended and regret my poor choice of words. It was an offensive and inaccurate way to portray our efforts to address potential violations of our nation's environmental laws,
... noted that this is a common law enforcement pattern; faced with limited resources, prosecutors focus on a few bad actors and try for the most draconian penalty permitted under law, in hopes of discouraging others. 

One has to grant some truth to this, but in the case of giant oil companies and corporations there are some issues.  In particular, I doubt that the EPA truly selects the "first five" companies.  Some selection criteria is employed, and there is likely to be considerable political influence on how the target companies are selected.  Do they support the current administration?  Do they contribute heavily to their local politicos?  Do they use selective prosecutions to steer non-legislative goals (for example the anti-fracking effort that EPA is clearly moving toward):
In 2010 his office targeted Range Resources, a Fort Worth-based driller that was among the first to discover the potential of the Marcellus Shale gas field of Pennsylvania — the biggest gas field in America and one of the biggest in the world. Armendariz’s office declared in an emergency order that Range’s drilling activity had contaminated groundwater in Parker County, Texas. Armendariz’s office insisted that Range’s hydraulic fracking activity had caused the pollution and ordered Range to remediate the water. The EPA’s case against Range was catnip for the environmental fracktivists who insist with religious zealotry that fracking is evil. Range insisted from the beginning that there was no substance to the allegations…

For a year and a half EPA bickered over the issue, both with Range and with the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas drilling and did its own scientific study of Range’s wells and found no evidence that they polluted anything. In recent months a federal judge slapped the EPA, decreeing that the agency was required to actually do some scientific investigation of wells before penalizing the companies that drilled them. Finally in March the EPA withdrew its emergency order and a federal court dismissed the EPA’s case.
And really, how would it play it we said we were going to "crucify" a few EPA administrators?  Would that pass the civility test?

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