Enviros Applaud EPA Choice for Texas Head

The EPA's new regional administrator has a good environmental track record

Good news for the environment in Texas: On Friday, President Barack Obama announced his selection of Dr. Alfredo "Al" Armendariz as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new regional administrator for EPA Region 6, which is headquartered in Dallas and includes Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Austin's regional Sierra Club organizers Ian Davis and Eva Hernandez said the national nonprofit had supported Armen­dariz's candidacy. "It's great news," Davis said. "Industry doesn't like him. They're having an 'oh shit' moment right now."

Regional administrators are responsible for managing the EPA's regional activities under the direction of the EPA administrator, promoting state and local environmental protection efforts, and serving as a liaison to state and local officials. Armendariz has served as an expert witness for the environmental group's advocacy against coal plants, Hernandez said, and he has been publicly critical of the Texas Commission on Environ­ment­al Quality for its laxity in enforcing environmental protection. Armendariz's résumé includes a stint as a research assistant at the MIT Center for Global Change Science in Massachusetts, and he has worked for the EPA's Dallas office as an environmental scientist. Currently he's an associate professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

"At this moment of great challenge and even greater opportunity, I'm thrilled that Al will be part of our leadership team," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in a press release. As President Obama's new head of the EPA, Jackson has taken steps to force the TCEQ to cease operating in violation of the federal Clean Air Act. Before Armendariz was selected, he posted a statement on his personal website outlining Jackson's priorities for the agency – including developing 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. "It would be a privilege to work as part of her team on these issues," he wrote.

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Alfredo 'Al' Armendariz, Environmental Protection Agency, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Lisa Jackson, Sierra Club, Ian Davis, Eva Hernandez

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