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Obama Administration To Send Texas Hope of a Breath of Fresh Air?

November 6th, 2009 · No Comments

News organizations are reporting that the Obama Administration plans to appoint Dr. Al Armendariz to lead Region 6 of the Environmental Protection Agency.  Local environmentalists have greeted this with “high praise”.

“Our region has typically provided a haven for some of the worst polluters in the country, and has paid a steep price,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, Texas Director for Public Citizen. “I believe the appointment of Dr. Al Armendariz signifies a new direction for Region 6.”

If the reporting is accurate, this could be a real step forward for the region.

Armendariz has a substantive record of working on environmental issues (note: pdf resume) , from academic studies (he is a Southern Methodist University engineering professor) to activism.

“Al Armendariz demonstrates the kind of vision, integrity and grassroots approach to enforcing environmental law this region needs if we’re truly going to clean up our act,” said Jeffrey Jacoby, Program Director at the Texas Campaign for the Environment (TCE). “He embodies the ‘Principles for Environmental Leadership and Real Change’ we believed should guide this appointment.”

“We are thrilled with Dr. Armendariz’s appointment,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. “After eight years of the Bush EPA, it’s a new day for Texas’ environment. Move over polluter lobbyists, science and human health are in charge now.”

Armendariz has also worked with the business community, pursuing the reality that it is environment and economy not the environment vs the economy.  (His serving on an Environmental Defense Fund board is indicative of this ‘environmentally business friendly’ thinking.)

The endorsements of Armendariz by people who know him, know the issues, know the region are impressive:

“Dr. Armendariz is exactly the kind of person you’d want to have this job, but seemingly never gets it,” said Jim Schermbeck, long-time Field Organizer with Downwinders at Risk. “Because of what’s at stake and the fact that Texas is the belly of the polluter beast, this may be one of the most important, far-reaching appointments the Obama Administration makes. Downwinders at Risk is proud to have been the group that first utilized Dr. Armendariz’s expertise for our cause of cleaning up the Midlothian cement kilns back in 2005. That work lead directly to his becoming the premier ‘citizen’s scientist’ in Texas on air pollution, and paved the way for his much larger influence on the state scene. Congratulations to both Dr. Armendariz and the EPA.”

If Armendariz’s appointment moves forward, this looks to be a great addition to the generally quite strong list of appointments when it comes to energy and environmental issues.

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Tags: Obama Administration