Polluters Force Strong Energy Nominee to Withdraw
Big polluters are high-fiving today as Ron Binz announced he is withdrawing his name for consideration to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The coal industry and their pals in Congress launched a tremendous smear campaign against Binz's nomination because of his legacy in supporting clean energy when he was head of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. Today, Binz told Politico that his experience should be a warning:
"I think the implications of this fight are something worth pondering. If this kind of handling of a nomination becomes…the new normal, that's going to make it a lot more difficult for good energy policy to grow," he said.
The career energy regulator and consultant said his record was "spun and respun" in an effort to show he was biased against coal and unfairly in favor of renewable power sources.
"The caricature that they created had nothing to do with who I am and nothing to do with what I might've brought to FERC. It was just a blood sport," he said.
In September, Binz appeared before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee where he was slammed by Congressional friends of big polluters for his "anti-coal" clean energy policies. Binz's record shows innovative achievement in boosting job-creating cleanenergy usage while saving consumers money on their electric bills.
"Let's be honest. Big polluters and their allies in the Senate would not be satisfied unless we had a coal or oil executive leading FERC. That's not going to happen," said Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director. "He is the kind of leader Americans need -- and, by consequence, he is exactly the kind of FERC Chairman big polluters don't want."
And so the gridlock in Congress continues, again in the form of blocking champions for clean energy, public health, and the environment. Of course, this isn't the first time this has happened. Gina McCarthy worked for both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, but still faced never-before-seen delays in her confirmation to be EPA Administrator. Our federal courthouses have vacancies on the bench as judges - like those for DC's Circuit court - are being blocked for purely political reasons. Key officials at the EPA have even been blocked for years on end.
The fact is that polluters and their political allies have resorted to unprecedented obstruction, abusing the rules of the Senate to stop any progress on the clean energy programs and jobs that they oppose tooth and nail. Until we fix the Senate and its outdated rules, big polluters and the politicians who blindly push their agenda will do everything possible to cling to their old way of fossil fuel pollution. These tactics have not only derailed the Senate and disgusted American voters -- they've also demonstrate that too many of our elected officials in Congress put special interests groups' priorities over the business of American families.
--Courtney Hight, Director of Sierra Club Democracy Programs