The Austin Chronicle

Obama Picks Environmentalist for EPA Region 6

By Katherine Gregor, November 6, 2009, 2:20pm, Newsdesk

Sierra Club organizers Ian Davis and Eva Hernandez were celebrating this morning that President Barack Obama has selected Dr. Alfredo "Al" Armendariz as Regional Administrator for EPA Region 6, which includes Texas. “It’s great news!” said Davis. “Industry doesn’t like him. They’re having an ‘oh shit’ moment right now!”

Numerous Democrats and the national Sierra Club supported Armendariz’s candidacy for the key Environmental Protection Agency job. He has served as an expert witness for the nonprofit’s advocacy against coal plants, said Hernandez, and he has been publicly critical of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, for its laxity in enforcing environmental protection.

A statement Armendariz posted to his personal website, prior to official announcement of his selection: “EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has outlined a set of national EPA priorities. These priorities address many of the environmental challenges faced by this region, including the development of solar and wind energy resources, improving urban air quality, converting brownfields back to economically productive uses, and developing the water and sanitation infrastructure of low income communities, especially along the border. If selected, it would be a privilege to work as part of her team on these issues.”

"I look forward to working closely with Al Armendariz on the range of urgent environmental issues we face, in Region 6 and across the nation," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson in a media release. As the new head of the EPA, Jackson has taken steps to force the TCEQ to cease operating in violation of the federal Clean Air Act. "At this moment of great challenge and even greater opportunity, I'm thrilled that Al will be part of our leadership team at EPA.”

Regional Administrators are responsible for managing the Agency's regional activities under the direction of the EPA Administrator. They promote state and local environmental protection efforts and serve as a liaison to state and local government officials – with an emphasis on transparency.

Armendariz will leave his current job an Associate Professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. His resume includes a post-college stint as a research assistant at the MIT Center for Global Change Science in Massachusetts. He previously worked for the EPA's Dallas office as an environmental scientist.

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