- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
- U.N. rights chief: Flight MH17 downing possible war crime
- Attack on park in Gaza war kills 10, mostly children
- Calif. protesters to block Israel-owned ships at Port of Oakland
- Obama to give Africa $38M, but tells young leaders: Stop ‘making excuses’ for economy
Binz record on energy in Colorado concerns many
Nominated by Obama to lead energy regulatory commission
Question of the Day
As Ronald J. Binz heads to Washington to become one of the country’s most powerful energy regulators, critics say the former Colorado official leaves in his wake a record of dramatic overreach, an outright hostility to coal and an “anti-business” bent.
Mr. Binz, who formerly led Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission, was tapped last month by President Obama to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an agency with broad authority over natural gas distribution, pipelines, electricity transmission and other vital energy matters. His record in Colorado indicates that he’s in lockstep with the White House’s agenda — spelled out in details by Mr. Obama’s speech on climate change policy last month — to sharply scale back or even eliminate coal-fired power plants and invest large amounts of taxpayer money in renewable energy research and projects.
“If Ron Binz does for the nation what he did for us in Colorado, consumers can expect much higher utility rates nationwide. Ron would cripple the utility industry with more unnecessary regulations,” said John Kinkaid, a commissioner in Colorado’s Moffat County. “We need to be going in the opposite direction the administration is taking us, and Ron Binz is just one more person who would have a negative impact on our national economy.”
Mr. Kinkaid added that he believes Mr. Binz is a “perfect fit” in an administration that’s been accused by Republicans, the energy industry and others of waging an all-out “war on coal.”
Republicans in Washington also have raised concerns, with Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski pledging to “carefully consider the nominee’s qualifications and fitness to serve.”
Mr. Binz, who returned to his consulting firm in Denver after leaving the utilities commission in 2011, declined an interview request.
But while critics see him as a key player in the Obama administration’s environmental agenda for the next four years, Mr. Binz’s supporters paint a very different picture.
Mr. Binz is viewed favorably by proponents of renewable energy and he also has received words of support from the heads of several major utility companies, some Colorado lawmakers and others who consider him a strong, bold choice for the job.
“Ron is a proven leader who recognizes the need for diversity in the U.S. electricity supply,” said Jim Robo, president and CEO of NextEra Energy Inc., a renewable-energy company. “His record of achievement would serve the country well in leading” the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
But Mr. Binz’s detractors object to more than his support for renewable energy and seeming distaste for coal, both of which are common sentiments in the Obama administration.
They also say that Mr. Binz has engaged in questionable ethical conduct by helping to draft “clean-energy” legislation that, in his role as Colorado’s public utilities regulator, he then helped implement.
He reportedly had a hand in crafting the state’s 2010 Clean Air Clean Jobs bill, which offered incentives for companies to close coal-fired power plants or revamp them to use cleaner alternatives such as natural gas.
The head of Xcel Energy Inc., a major electric and natural gas company believed to also have had a hand in drafting the Colorado legislation, strongly backs the appointment.
Mr. Binz’s nomination “is a strong choice in this time of change for the utility industry,” company Chairman Ben Fowke said in a statement last week. “His understanding of the regulatory process makes him uniquely qualified to address the diverse set of issues facing utilities in the U.S., from grid modernization to carbon regulation.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Wolfgang covers the White House for The Washington Times.
Before joining the Times in March 2011, Ben spent four years as a political reporter at the Republican-Herald in Pottsville, Pa.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Libya now nation at risk with weak U.S. influence; embassy closes as chaos grows
- White House readies for House GOP impeachment push: 'Foolish' to ignore
- White House adviser on 2016: Rand Paul more viable than Ted Cruz
- Obama takes aim at 'corporate deserters'
- Michelle Obama says money in politics is bad, asks donors for 'big, fat check'
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- D.C. police chief orders officers not to arrest legal gun owners carrying weapons in public
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- Family of Marine killed in Afghanistan pushes back against cover-up
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- DeSean Jackson working on offensive cohesiveness with Redskins teammates
- Washington Times strikes content and marketing partnership with Redskins
- D.C. seeks stay in order striking down ban on handguns in public
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq