Corporate culture

May 4, 2012

We’re just about to the point where we’re going to have full contact politics. This race for presidency is going to be interesting, to say the least. It really does get down to an ideology and voting for the man who possesses the same ideals you do. And the way I see it, it’s a simple choice who our next president should be.

Last week, a story came out about an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator’s enforcement recommendations that was amusing, but at the same time, very concerning. Al Armendariz oversees the oil and gas industry in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas and Louisiana, and is apparently big on enforcement.

The story is political because it was Oklahoma Rep. James Inhofe’s office who found the news clip from a 2010 EPA meeting. Armendariz was speaking about enforcement techniques in the video, and Inhofe used it to combat the controversial Clean Water Act and the agency’s interpretations of the act. Inhofe said EPA wrongfully linked natural gas production through hydraulic fracturing to water contamination. He was criticizing EPA’s tactic of citing oil and gas companies with alleged water contamination, then dropping the charges, ultimately costing these companies a great deal of capital and tarnishing the companies’ reputations Armendariz said that he gave an enforcement analogy to his staff. In retrospect, he thought his remarks were probably a little crude, and maybe not appropriate for the meeting. However, his comments won’t be quickly forgotten. “It’s kind of like how the Romans used to conquer the villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go in to a little Turkish town somewhere and they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them. Then that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.

“So you make examples out of people who are, in this case, not complying with the law. You find people who are not complying with the law and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them. There’s a deterrent effect there. And companies that are smart see that. They don’t want to play that game and they decide at that point it’s time to clean up. And that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people,” said Armendariz.

Every day we see EPA enforcement notices where they are constantly citing companies, local governments over some regulatory compliance issue. EPA is very busy enforcing environmental law and levying huge fines on companies, both large and small, over what seems like, in many cases, minor issues.

And it certainly can’t be a coincidence that the enforcement actions across the country are this consistent from region to region, but they certainly appear to be. Armendariz was apparently teaching his staff how he chooses to enforce EPA regulations, which certainly is a little rough.

This kind of behavior isn’t exclusive to the EPA. Enforcement actions from the Packers and Stockyards Administration, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, and many other agencies are all becoming more aggressive in their enforcement duties.

I bring this story up because there does seem to be a pattern in the new way these agencies are operating and that can only be changed by leadership. Every organization has a culture or a style on how they do their business. It may be a lazy, lackadaisical culture or a high energy, aggressive culture. It doesn’t matter how I describe it, but every organization has one, a corporate culture.

The Obama administration has its corporate culture, and over the term of this administration, I think it’s safe to say that he has an activist, punitive corporate culture. I am also sure that is because of his activist background and the way that he continually penalizes wealthy, successful people and organizations. And his administration clearly needs more regulations to carry out his agenda.

EPA and other agencies have President Obama’s corporate culture for a reason. It certainly appears that EPA is one of Obama’s tools for destruction. The agency has been very tough on the economy and has done nothing to stimulate the economic growth this government needs to pay its bills.

I’m sure that it is no surprise that Armedariz was appointed by Obama in 2009. And I would not be surprised if these two did not share the same philosophy—Obama’s corporate culture. One thing I do know is that it’s time for a new corporate culture in government and that will only come with a new president. — PETE CROW