Al Gore slams Binz’s foes as ‘global warming polluters and their lobbyists’

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, October 7, 2013

Former Vice President Al Gore weighed in on the demise of President Obama’s nominee for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman on Twitter yesterday, calling the opponents of former Colorado regulator Ron Binz “global warming polluters and their lobbyists.”

Gore also called Binz, who pulled his name from consideration after a rocky confirmation hearing, a “moderate, forward-thinking FERC chair” whose nomination was “scuttled.” Gore also linked to a Tuesday Politico story titled “Obama FERC nominee Ron Binz withdraws amid coal pushback.”

His tweet sparked a series of questions and comments.

One person tweeted: “In all fairness FERC isn’t exactly anti fossil fuel. And how could anyone b scuttled if they clearly want the position? No spine?”

Obama nominated Binz in June to replace outgoing FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff for a five-year term. The Arkansas native was a familiar face in the electric sector who had taken on fights with the telecommunication and energy industries and established Colorado’s first office for consumer advocacy.

His nomination, Binz said, became a target of opposition for “far right” groups that he maintains misrepresented him.

Groups such as the libertarian-leaning American Energy Alliance argued that Binz was part of the Obama administration’s plans to tackle climate change through regulatory actions that bypass Congress. Those groups focused on Binz’s work to implement Colorado’s contentious “Clean Air, Clean Jobs” legislation while chairing the state Public Utilities Commission from 2007 to 2011.

In an interview, Binz said his nomination provided a “cautionary tale” because independent agencies like FERC with such critical missions as overseeing the electric grid, pipelines and hydropower projects should not be subject to “political blood sport” (Greenwire, Oct. 1).

Binz, who plans to continue consulting on energy issues in Denver, is slated to discuss his nomination and decision to withdraw Sunday on “Platts Energy Week.”