Former Environmental Protection Agency official Al Armendariz, who resigned after a video surfaced in which he described a push to "crucify" major violators in the oil and gas business, has accepted a new job with the Sierra Club.
Armendariz, who had led the EPA’s Dallas-based Region 6, will serve as a senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign beginning in mid-July. The national campaign, which began 10 years ago, has six other senior campaign representatives. Armendariz will be based in Austin and will oversee the group’s work in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, the Sierra Club announced in a news release Friday.
His responsibilities, according to the release, will include working toward transitioning the three states “off coal-fired electricity and toward an economy powered by job-generating clean energy sources such as wind and the sun."
An El Paso native, Armendariz, said he he was proud to accept the new post. "As a father and a scientist, I know how important it is to transition to cleaner sources of energy that don’t pollute the air that our children breathe," he said, "and I’m proud to be working on a campaign with a proven track record for success.”
Armendariz stepped down from his EPA position in April after a controversial video surfaced in which he compared the way the EPA could keep violators in the oil and gas business in check to how Romans would “crucify” those they conquered in Turkish towns. Armendariz resigned within a week of the video’s discovery, noting in a letter to the EPA’s head Lisa Jackson: “I have come to the conclusion that my continued service will distract you and the agency from its important work.”
Earlier this month, Armendariz was scheduled to testify at the U.S. House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on the EPA, but he canceled late. (He and the EPA were heavily criticized by congressional Republicans during the hearing.) The same afternoon as Armendariz had been scheduled to testify, according to a National Journal story, Armendariz's name was spotted on the sign-in sheet at the Sierra Club in Washington, D.C.
Bruce Nilles, senior campaign director for the Beyond Coal Campaign, said in an email that given Armendariz's experience and expertise, he would only help the campaign expand its efforts.
"Dr. Armendariz is one of the nation’s staunchest champions for public health protections, clean energy, and creating secure jobs though innovation," Nilles said. "We’re proud that someone of his stature and credibility has decided to join the Sierra Club’s push to get the nation from coal to clean energy."