A major stumbling block for Congressional action on climate change and clean energy has been the Koch brothers, notorious oil executives with a long history of bankrolling front groups that deny climate change science. One such Koch-backed group, Americans for Prosperity, has been working quietly behind the scenes to kill key incentives for clean energy and block any solutions in Washington that would confront the climate crisis. But now, they’re going even further, teaming up with another Koch-backed group, the so-called American Energy Alliance in an unprecedented attempt to block President Obama’s nominee to head an energy-related agency that is widely recognized as nonpartisan.
The agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), has the important task of regulating the interstate transmission of our country’s electricity, natural gas, and oil. Its role is even more important as the United States works to modernize our energy infrastructure and move towards a clean energy economy. President Obama has nominated Ron Binz to lead the agency, a proven leader with more than thirty years of experience, who has the support of utility companies, clean energy companies, investors, and former FERC commissioners nominated by both parties.
Ron Binz truly understands the energy challenges that we face, and is the right leader at the right time for this agency. In Colorado, he served as the Chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, where he helped to implement bipartisan energy initiatives, including a 30 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard and an increase in energy efficiency standards. Under his leadership, the commission approved a plan to significantly increase wind and solar thermal capacity. Binz also served as Colorado’s first Utility Consumer Advocate, working to save millions of dollars for families and small businesses across the state.
It’s just the type of forward thinking we need at FERC. But Big Oil and corporate polluters – like the Koch Brothers – are using every trick in the book to prevent this nomination from moving forward. They’re desperate to stop President Obama from moving our nation further towards a clean energy future, which could threaten their soaring profits.
It’s all to clear that this Koch-funded coalition cares more about attacking the President’s efforts on climate change and clean energy than it does about Binz, an experienced nominee who understands the energy challenges facing our nation. Republicans and Democrats should come together and confirm Ron Binz to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissions, and not fall for the Koch Brothers’ power grab.
(The photograph was found on Creative Commons, and was taken by Travis.)