Al Armendariz, SMU associate professor of environmental and civil engineering, is President Barack Obama‘s choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency‘s Region 6, which includes Texas – the nation’s largest producer of industrial air pollution – and four other southwestern states.
“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, who announced the appointment. “At this moment of great challenge and even greater opportunity, I’m thrilled that Al will be part of our leadership team at EPA. He will certainly play an instrumental role in our Agency’s mission to protect our health and the environment.”
Regional EPA administrators promote state and local environmental protection efforts and serve as a liaison between Jackson and state and local government officials. Armendariz takes the helm at Region 6 at a time when the EPA has made it clear that Texas pollution enforcement standards are not high enough and must meet federal Clean Air Act requirements followed by other states.
“I think it’s fair to say that the new administration, the President and Lisa Jackson have put EPA on a new course to better protect the environment and I’m happy to be part of the team,” Armendariz said. “I think it’s pretty obvious to the regulated industries and the environmental groups and the politicians that what EPA is doing now is a big departure from what EPA has been doing for a number of years. It’s an exciting time.”
Region 6 includes the states of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, as well as 66 Indian tribes. While on leave, Armendariz will retain his appointment with SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering.
“We are thrilled that Al Armendariz’ work in improving our living and working environments has been recognized by the President and EPA Administrator,” said Geoffrey Orsak, dean of the Lyle School. “Al is an extraordinarily talented, insightful and balanced engineer who will make a significant contribution to our nation and region.”
“I am very excited and I’m looking forward to joining the administration,” Armendariz said. “I’ve greatly enjoyed being at SMU. It’s been a fantastic place to work and I’ve had the support of Dean Orsak and Dr. (R. Gerald) Turner for all my activities. It’s been a great place to teach and do research, and I look forward to continuing my association with SMU for years to come.”
Armendariz joined SMU in 2002 after receiving his Ph.D in environmental engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health. He worked as a research assistant at the MIT Center for Global Change Science at their Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratory in Massachusetts, and at the Radian Corporation in North Carolina as a chemical engineer, before joining the SMU faculty. He also spent a summer on special assignment to EPA’s Dallas office as an environmental scientist.