Throughout the nomination of Ronald Binz to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), there was one burning question: Would Mr. Binz bring regulatory-activism to the job?
The Wall Street Journal catpured the essence in the op-ed titled “Born-Again Fracker“:
Mr. Binz must have found it even more painful to disavow any policy-making role at FERC. He has written extensively about how regulators should go beyond the confines of the law to dictate “desired societal outcomes,” and he has mused that as Colorado public utility commissioner from 2007-2011 he saw himself “not simply as an umpire calling balls and strikes, but also as a leader on policy implementation.”
On Tuesday Mr. Binz flipped and promised he wouldn’t even lead from behind. FERC’s duty is only “to promote the appropriate infrastructure investments” like gas pipelines and electric transmission, he said. “Now that’s not just a passive process. It is mainly passive in the sense that we—at the FERC, if I’m appointed at FERC, we’ll receive applications from businesses to build things.”
Now, at last, Mr. Binz has shown that a tiger cannot change his stripes.
In his letter of withdrawal to the President, Mr. Binz seems to gush with remorse for what might have been:
You (President Obama) and your Administration have shown great leadership on environmental and energy issues and should be commended for advancing action on climate change. Thank you for your support of climate legislation and regulation going back to before 2008 and for your selection of strong leaders for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.
Although the FERC does not have a direct role in climate issues, its policies are essential components that allow other policies to work. Our nation’s move toward clean energy resources will be much slower without a strong commitment at the FERC to enhance investment in energy infrastructure and to ensure that clean energy resources have full access to electricity markets. It is essential that your next and future appointees to the FERC have that commitment.
Thank you, Mr. Binz, for the confession in this letter. Senators who opposed your nomination in committee can now have no doubt their suspicions about you were correct, and as a result will likely be as keen and vigilant with any future nominations to the FERC.
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