According to the Wall Street Journal, Ron Binz is “the most important and radical Obama nominee you’ve never heard of.” If he becomes the next chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or FERC you can expect the worst from this sleepy regulator.
FERC was a sleepy regulator until the Obama Presidency, but it has statutory powers that could be turned into anticarbon weapons, such as the authority to impose fines of up $1 million per day for what it claims are violations. They also include the power to block energy mergers and the construction of terminals, pipelines and transmission.
You can bet that Mr. Binz will be creative and political, and don’t be so sure his only target is coal. At an Edison Foundation panel this March, he called natural gas a “dead end” technology because “on the carbon basis, you hit the wall in 2035 or so.” He added that “We have to do better on carbon than even natural gas will allow us to do.” This is unusual in that the greens usually pretend to support gas to make outlawing coal seem more reasonable. Mr. Binz let the mask slip.
Mr. Binz is part of the White House’s damn-the-voters strategy of imposing through regulation what Congress won’t pass, and now he wants to glide into FERC without protest. But the Senate’s advice-and-consent role is especially important because a FERC chairman has broad powers, much like a CEO’s, even if other commissioners dissent—and the chairman is not supposed to carry Mr. Obama’s banner. Mr. Binz’s record and methods deserve far more scrutiny than they have received.