This week the Paper Version of Unfair Park's cover is a profile of Al Armendariz, who took a leave from his gig as a Southern Methodist University engineering professor to run the Environmental Protection Agency's regional office in Dallas, stepping right into a simmering fight between the agency and Rick Perry.
The story covers Armendariz's transition from academics to environmental policy, first lobbying in Austin for controls on cement kilns in Midlothian, then gathering a rock star following among gas drilling activists for his study on how much natural gas operations pollute around Dallas-Fort Worth -- about as much as all the cars and trucks on the road.
In the last year, he's been the face of the EPA's tighter controls over Texas air quality, drawing fire from state leaders in Austin at every turn. Jump for a few links to some related reading, and video of Armendariz recounting the EPA's work in Texas over the last year.
While the EPA has stepped in to invalidate Texas' flexible permit program, and to issue permits for greenhouse gas emissions because Texas refused to, state leaders have been vocal about the agency at every turn. Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott, and TCEQ have all drawn attention to the fight. Back in December, Schutze offered his take on Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams' thoughts on the EPA.
In the last few months, as I mention in the story, Texas Monthly's named Armendariz one of its 25 most powerful Texans and the Houston Chronicle called him "the most feared environmentalist in the state." D chatted him up a few months into his tenure at the EPA.
One of the highest-profile enforcement moves the EPA's taken in North Texas since Armendariz took over is the emergency order against Range Resources, telling the gas driller to clean up the contaminated water supplies around two wells in Parker County. Range has pushed back hard against the agency's science, saying they could prove the water contamination wasn't from their drilling.
Here's Armendariz delivering the State of the Air talk last month at the Air Alliance Houston event that leads off the story: