Local folks who don’t like the way the oil and gas industry is shoving drilling down their throats are breathing a little bit easier today (which is saying a lot in polluted Fort Worth).

News that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has appointed Al Armendariz as our region’s administrator is a revelation worth celebrating.

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“Only on rare occasions do those of us crazy enough to fight back against Big Gas get any good news – today was a gusher!” FWCanDo founder Don Young said.

Armendariz, an associate professor of environmental and civil engineering at SMU, was President Barack Obama’s choice to lead Region 06, which includes Texas, the biggest industrial polluter in the nation.

Armendariz has released clean-air studies that point to cement plants, natural gas compressor engines, and other sources of pollution, and he’s hammered regulators for twiddling their thumbs while industry fouls the ozone.

The Downwinders at Risk group that’s been gagging over the pollution coming from Midlothian cement plants says Armendariz is “exactly the kind of person you’d want to have this job, but seemingly never gets it.”

Young compared Armendariz’s appointment to High Noon, the 1952 movie starring Gary Cooper as a sheriff facing a gang of thugs alone after the town refuses to help him.

“Only this time the bad guys are quaking in their boots and the marshal has a well-trained posse that is ready to ride,” Young said. “Underhanded, double-dealing Barnett Shale gas drillers and mayors are in the sights of the new marshal and he’s loaded for bear.”

Young and his compatriots might want to throttle down their expectations a tad. Armendariz is impressive and he’s willing to fight the good fight, but he’s one man facing a filthy rich energy industry that routinely throws money at legislators to maintain lax laws and measly oversight.

Still, in a statement issued through SMU, Armendariz sounds gung-ho: “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,” he said.