Manchin Serves Masters, Opposes Binz for FERC Chairman

David Gutman has a story in today’s Charleston Gazette reporting that Sen. Joe Manchin has publicly declared that he will oppose President Obama’s nominee for FERC chairman in the Senate confirmation process.  Manchin is a member of the closely divided Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Without Manchin’s support, Binz would need the vote of at least one Republican on the Senate Energy Committee — an unlikely proposition — in order to progress to a confirmation vote by the full Senate.

Mr. Gutman’s story is a little confusing, but that’s not surprising, because Manchin always talks out of all sides of his mouth at once.  He quotes Manchin as opposing Binz because:

  1. “Manchin said a main reason he would not support Binz is because of Binz’s past work in transforming Colorado’s coal-fired power plants to natural gas.”
  2. “He’s [Binz] ideologically in a position where he believes we should be moving more to a renewable market that’s not as reliable.”
  3. “I’m for an all-in policy,” Manchin said.

So Manchin is for his usual “all-in” blather, but he says Binz is bad because Binz pushed for the expansion of natural gas and renewable sources to produce electricity.  Doesn’t sound like “all-in” to me.  Sounds like Manchin is a coal industry enforcer, as usual.

My friends in the natural gas industry in WV should be appalled at Manchin’s open hostility to the use of natural gas to produce electricity.

Oh, Joe, about that reliability issue – if renewable power is so unreliable, why are major companies across the US unplugging from the coal-oriented electrical grid and generating their own electricity with solar and natural gas generation?  Here is that story from today’s Wall Street Journal.

From big-box retailers to high-tech manufacturers, more companies across the country are producing their own power. Since 2006, the number of electricity-generation units at commercial and industrial sites has more than quadrupled to roughly 40,000 from about 10,000, according to federal statistics.

Experts say the trend is gaining momentum, spurred by falling prices for solar panels and natural gas, as well as a fear that power outages caused by major storms will become more common.

And that is just the kind of reliable electrical system that Ron Binz has supported for years.

Mr. Manchin continues to stand in the way of electrical reliability and innovation.  He did enough of that in WV.  We’ll now see how the rest of the country likes it.

6 thoughts on “Manchin Serves Masters, Opposes Binz for FERC Chairman

  1. What does it matter what the rest of the country thinks? What does it matter what gas workers in WV, or environmentalists in WV, or ANYONE thinks? Manchin has one main master, the coal industry, though he will stick up for the gas and oil drillers if it doesn’t conflict with coal. Public opinion, in WV or nationally, is irrelevant. What it takes to win reelection is more money than any opponents–if you’re well enough funded you don’t even HAVE opponents–and pleasing your johns is the ticket to having enough money. Doesn’t matter if you go against the interests of your human constituents virtually 100% of the time. As long as your keep the money flowing from your corporate constituents, your seat stays secure. Voters don’t follow issues–they base their judgments on what they see during the campaign, mostly ads.

  2. Where has Binz been promoting distributed generation? I must have missed that… what I saw was him acting like big wind’s mouthpiece. There’s a big, big difference. Now maybe Obama can do what he should have done in the first place, nominate a regulator who does not have a political agenda.

    • Take a look at Binz’s CERES power point again. The whole point of his risk aware regulation is that smaller generation units, closer to load, and energy efficiency investments are lowest risk of all electricity options. That is distributed generation, and Binz supports it.

      Binz is an ambitious politician. I am not going to argue that. And he has supported big wind policies. But I don’t see the big, big difference. He has done both.

      This discussion is moot anyway with the coal veto sitting on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee with its Koch bloc and coal boy Manchin. In this situation, the only FERC chairman that is nominated will be one with a coal-friendly political agenda.

      You don’t get nominated to be chairman of FERC without some kind of an agenda. Binz was about as good as we could expect, and he is toast.

  3. Thanks Bill for the very informative post on our Senator Manchin and his proclivity to speak with forked tongue. I don’t know how many times the good senator has told me that he believes in a diversified approach to energy yet he does something like this, opposing a very good FERC nominee, and makes me think what is he thinking or even better who is telling him to think this way?

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