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Sham Energy Markets Governed By Energy Industry Lobbyists

Government oversight has become Corporations for the Corporations

Welcome to the Brave New World of Deregulation

 Christie’s energy & environmental agencies headed by former energy industry lobbyists

Award winning journalist David Cay Johnston has another outstanding story today on how energy markets are gamed, see:

Read the whole thing, but below I’ll excerpt his closing paragraphs, because they highlight criticism I and several others recently made at the Christie Energy Master Plan public hearings. (see also: The Game Is Rigged)

We blasted the fact that the Gov. Christie appointed President of the NJ Board of Public Utilities, Richard Mroz, is a former energy industry lawyer and lobbyist, including a founder of the NJ Energy Coalition. 

BPU President Richard Mroz

BPU President Richard Mroz

Accordingly, he has gross conflicts of interest in reviewing and voting to approve billions of dollars of energy industry revenues for his cronies and the corporations he previously represented as a lawyer or lobbyist.

Most recently, the NJ Energy Coalition testified at the BPU Energy Master Plan hearings Mroz presided over and played a high profile role in supporting the controversial $500 million South Jersey Gas Pinelands pipeline and BL England repowering projects that Mroz voted in favor of.

Many environmentalists were still angry about the commission’s action at Monday’s public hearing on updates to the state’s Energy Master Plan run by BPU President Richard Mroz.

“This is the background you have with the Energy Master Plan, what appears to be complete corruption and collusion in the Pinelands. It’s a debacle,” said water quality activist Margo Pellegrino, of Medford Lakes, with rising emotion and to applause, before Mroz asked her to end her comments.

Mroz also has a political revolving door past, as a player in the Whitman Administration, the disaster crew who deregulated the energy industry, a fiasco and billion dollar ripoff that keeps on ripping.

Similarly, Gov. Christie’s Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) – the agency that works closely with Mroz’s BPU to rubber stamp all the lax air and water permits for those energy industry facilities – is a former energy industry consultant, with absolutely zero environmental training or experience.

(*Despite his lack of experience and expertise – and without legislative authorization and contrary to 40 years of environmental law and agency practice – Martin unilaterally “transformed” DEP’s “mission critical role” to include “support of economic development”. He then, like a Mafia debt collector (“Nice shop you have here, it’d be a shame if it burned down“), openly threatened DEP professionals to get in line with his agenda via his “burning platform” briefing. Redolent of Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution, Martin then ordered all DEP staff to attend “customer service” training: of course, the customers being business,  industry and developers seeking DEP permits, not the public seeking DEP protections. Unfortunately, DEP professionals fell in line. Amazingly, this arrogant abuse of power has been totally ignored by media and Legislative oversight bodies.)

DEP Commissioner Robert Martin

DEP Commissioner Robert Martin

Repeat: the heads of Gov. Christie’s energy and environmental agencies are former energy industry lobbyists.

Why has NJ media failed to connect those dots? No wonder Christie brags about dismantling NJ climate programs.

Read the whole article – what Johnston sees in NY we also see in NJ:

Sham markets

My case against electricity markets is not an argument for traditional utility regulation. Monopoly utilities also pose serious economic problems that I have been writing about for more than four decades. But the ease with which the so-called markets are gamed, making them shams in my view, suggests that they are no better and arguably worse. Keep in mind that Enron wrote the original market rules.

What we need in all cases are regulatory agencies staffed by competent people with the authority and resources to pursue the facts. Above them we need regulatory commissions whose appointees are scrupulously fair and deeply informed. Instead we get boards filled with past and future utility executives who do favors for their past and former employers at tremendous expense to consumers and the economy. It’s as if the Knave of Hearts were installed as Wonderland’s tart regulator

What we see in the New York case is, at its most blatant, how democracy that should serve people is being perverted into government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations. We must take our government back.

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