WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the nation’s top energy regulator withdrew Tuesday, conceding he did not have enough support for confirmation.
Ron Binz, a former Colorado energy regulator who strongly backs renewable energy, was opposed by at least half of the 22-member Senate Energy Committee, including all 10 Republicans and at least one Democrat.
Opponents said they considered Binz’s views to be outside the mainstream and were troubled by his comment that natural gas may be a “dead end” fuel.
Binz’s withdrawal was celebrated by pro-coal activists, who had strongly opposed his nomination. Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, a conservative group backed by fossil fuel interests, called Binz “the wrong nominee at the worst possible time for American consumers.”
Binz, 64, said he was caught up in an ideological battle that had little to do with him – or with FERC’s job of regulating interstate transmission of electricity, oil and natural gas. The panel does not regulate coal.
A former advocate for energy consumers, Binz now works as a consultant and is affiliated with a renewable energy institute headed by former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter.