Inhofe says new EPA Region 6 head has anti-coal past

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., took immediate exception to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s naming of Ron Curry to head the EPA’s Region 6 office, calling Curry just another anti-coal advocate.

Inhofe is Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Curry, formerly Secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department until 2010, will replace Al Armendariz at the Region 6 EPA office. Armendariz recently resigned after he was caught on video admitting the EPA’s “general philosophy” is to “crucify” and “make examples” of American energy producers, Inhofe noted.

“In typical EPA fashion, the agency released yet another late Friday afternoon statement – this time to inform us that Ron Curry will replace Al Armendariz of ‘crucify’ fame to oversee the largest oil and gas producing region in the country,” Inhofe said in a Sept. 21 statement. “The timing of the announcement is the first red flag, and while I look forward to learning more about Mr. Curry, various public comments attributed to him raise concerns. Mr. Curry has in the past expressed pride over shutting down coal fired power plants in New Mexico and has voiced concern with natural gas calling critical infrastructure a ‘threat to air quality.’ He has also expressed his staunch support for the Clean Water Restoration Act, a bill that would give the federal government control over every body of water in America, including intermittent streams and irrigation ditches.”

Inhofe said the Curry appointment, as well as the previous appointment of Armendariz, underscores the importance of his bill, the EPA Regional Oversight Act of 2012, which requires that regional administrators be confirmed by the Senate.

“In my leadership role on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and as the Senator from Oklahoma in EPA’s Region 6 reach, I will be providing extensive oversight of the Region 6 office as well as its new administrator,” Inhofe said.

Region 6’s duties include oversight over tribal entities and the states of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.

EPA Region 6 spokesman Dave Bary said Sept. 24 that the agency put out no formal announcement on the Curry appointment. Region 6 was notified of the appointment on Sept. 21 by the EPA main office and Curry reported for his first day of work at Region 6 on Sept. 24. Curry left the New Mexico department around the end of 2010 after the term of former Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson ended. Bary didn’t have information on what Curry has been doing since then.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.