Home > Uncategorized > Murphy AG Urged To Remove BPU Commissioner Mroz for Conflicts Of Interest

Murphy AG Urged To Remove BPU Commissioner Mroz for Conflicts Of Interest

Former Fossil Industry Lobbyists Is Sabotaging Murphy Renewable Energy Goals

Role As Fossil Energy Lobbyists Creates Gross Conflicts of Interest

Today we filed a petition with NJ Gov. Murphy’s Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal to remove BPU Commissioner Richard Mroz for gross conflicts of interest and a continuing pattern of conduct that evidences political partisanship and a lack of required objectivity, impartiality, and independence.

The petition also was filed with the State Ethics Commission pursuant to 52:13D-12 et seq, which provides these Legislative findings

The Legislature finds and declares:

(a) In our representative form of government, it is essential that the conduct of public officials and employees shall hold the respect and confidence of the people. Public officials must, therefore, avoid conduct which is in violation of their public trust or which creates a justifiable impression among the public that such trust is being violated.

The petition was also filed with BPU President Fiordaliso:

The Board is considered a quasi-judicial body, meaning that it functions similar to a court or judge. Anyone may file a petition (or a request for action) asking the Board to consider a matter within its jurisdiction

Commissioner Mroz has both the appearance of and actual conflicts of interest (i.e. meets the ethics standard of “a justifiable impression among the public”), is biased in favor of fossil energy and against renewable energy, fails to recognize the science of and act upon climate change, and lacks independent judgment and impartiality required to fulfill his quasi-judicial role as a BPU Commissioner in accordance with NJ law, including the Administrative Procedure Act, State Ethics Act, and BPU’s enabling authority.

BPU Commissioners must have no relationship to regulated entities:

48:2-8. Connection with public utilities or governmental office prohibited

No member or employee of the board shall have any official or professional relation or connection with, or hold any stock or securities in, any public utility as herein defined, operating within this State, or hold any other office of profit or trust under the government of this State or of the United States.

The NJ Supreme Court has highlighted the importance of impartiality and objectivity in quasi-judicial regulatory deliberations:

The primary reason for establishing the Office of Administrative Law was “to bring impartiality and objectivity to agency hearings and ultimately to achieve higher levels of fairness in administrative adjudications.” Horn, 85 N.J. at 650, quoted in N.J. Civil Service, 88 N.J. at 609. Through the OAL, the Legislature intended to provide “a new system of administrative adjudication, promoting justice through uniformity and independence.”

We argue that Mroz has engaged in a pattern of conduct that fails to comply with his legal obligations in a manner that evidences bias and lack of impartiality and objectivity. Based on recent public statements regarding development of offshore wind (see NJ Spotlight, 3/1/18), Mroz persists in a biased and partisan fashion.

Mroz can not remedy his bias and conflicts via case-by-case recusals and therefore must be removed.

Commissioner Mroz served as former Gov. Christie’s BPU President and aggressively pushed a series of controversial fossil fueled pipelines and gas power plants through the BPU approval process.

He presided over BPU approvals that provided special favors to politically connected fossil fuel projects represented by the notorious criminal law firm Wolff & Samson, including subsidies, exemptions from various special charges, and secret “confidentiality agreements”, all contrary to the public interest and benefiting his former industry colleagues he represented as a lobbyist.

Mroz was a loyal Christie Lieutenant, who justified these fossil approvals as part of Gov. Christie’s Energy Master Plan, while virtually ignoring climate change and the greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals established by the NJ Legislature in the Global Warming Response Act and more specifically by NJSA 48:3-87 Environmental disclosure requirements; standards; rules.

(2)By July 1, 2009, the board shall adopt, pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), a greenhouse gas emissions portfolio standard to mitigate leakage or another regulatory mechanism to mitigate leakage applicable to all electric power suppliers and basic generation service providers that provide electricity to customers within the State.

Mroz also failed to implement the mandatory requirements of the Off Shore Wind Act, PL 2010, c.57:

(4) within 180 days after the date of enactment of P.L.2010, c.57 (C.48:3-87.1 et al.), that the board establish an offshore wind renewable energy certificate program to require that a percentage of the kilowatt hours sold in this State by each electric power supplier and each basic generation service provider be from offshore wind energy in order to support at least 1,100 megawatts of generation from qualified offshore wind projects.

Mroz also destabilized the solar industry during his BPU leadership.

Mroz is former gas industry lobbyist. He has a gross conflict of interest and has abused ethical norms by failing to disclose his conflicts and recuse himself from BPU decisions that benefit his former legal and lobby clients and members and associates at NJ Energy Coalition.

Specifically, Mr. Mroz was a founder, lobbyist, and senior advisor to the NJ Energy Coalition. 

Here is how Ed Salmon, the current Chairman NJ Energy Coalition describes the founding in testimony to the NJ Senate:

In August 2007, my partner Richard Mroz and I launched a new statewide organization – The New Jersey Energy Coalition. The Coalition’s focus is to provide a reliable third-party voice in the discussion on New Jersey’s energy needs. The Coalition was very involved in the New Jersey Energy Master Plan and has provided discussion and educational initiatives on energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, generation needs, and transmission challenges, to name a few.

Here is the 2007 launch press coverage – note that specific existing corporate energy facilities are mentioned, so the Coalition was far more than some generic “reliable third party voice”. They represented specific corporate interests and continue to do so. The Link to then existing NJEC is dead

Here are just some of the members of the NJ Energy Coalition, which include the law firm that represented South Jersey Gas and corporate interests in the Pinelands pipeline and BL England battles, including pipeline and natural gas companies that regularly appear before BPU and economically benefit from BPU approvals:

Cozen O’Connor: Cozen O’Connor is one of the top law firms in the country, employing over 600 attorneys in cities spanning two continents. This international firm has practices in litigation, business law and government relations.

New Jersey Natural Gas: New Jersey Natural Gas is a New Jersey Resources company dedicated to providing safe, reliable, and competitively priced natural gas services including transportation, distribution, and asset management.

NJ Petroleum Council: The New Jersey Petroleum Council is a state council of the American Petroleum Institute, that helps companies follow the status of regulatory and legislative issues impacting the oil and natural gas industries.

Orange & Rockland: Orange and Rockland is a gas utility headquartered in New York, and with its two subsidiaries serves over 750,000 people in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

PennEast Pipeline CompanyPennEast Pipeline Company is made up of six companies; AGL Resources, NJR Pipeline Company, PSE&G Power, South Jersey Industries, Spectra Energy, and UGL Industries. The company has plans to create the PennEast Pipeline that will provide customers with savings due to the reduced price of the transportation and the cost of natural gas.

Public Service Enterprise Group: Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) is a publicly traded diversified energy company headquartered in New Jersey, and one of the ten largest electric companies in the U.S. PSEG’s principal subsidiaries are: Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G), PSEG Power and PSEG Energy Holdings.

RC Cape May Holdings: RC Cape May Holdings is an entity formed by Rockland Capital, Energy Investors Funds and other investors in order to acquire the BL England Power Station.

South Jersey GasSouth Jersey Gas serves customers in 112 municipalities spanning over 2,500 square miles, or one-third of the geographic area of New Jersey. This service area includes all of Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem counties and parts of Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties. The majority of new home construction on their mains choose to heat with natural gas.

Here is Mr. Mroz’s BPU bio: note boldface:

Before becoming President of the NJBPU he worked in private practice as a lawyer and lobbyist as Managing Director of Archer Public Affairs in Trenton, New Jersey and Of Counsel to Archer & Greiner P.C., in Haddonfield, New Jersey.

Here is how Archer Public Affairs describes their work (emphasis mine):


  • Represented energy company regarding multi-million gallon crude oil spill at a refinery, a high-profile event because fumes reached neighborhoods for miles around.
  • Served as liaison between the company and state government regulators.
  • Conducted numerous conversations, conferences and correspondence with ground-level regulatory staff and high-level elected and appointed officials, keeping them apprised of issues and progress, and relaying information to the client as needed.
  • Cleanup and state inspection went smoothly; government officials appreciated easy access to updates and information.
  • Importantly, about a month before the spill, the firm had arranged a meet-and-greet with state officials, a recent contact that helped immeasurably during the emergent situation.

Here is “Sourcewatch” database on the NJ Energy Coalition which cites the group’s website:


From the group’s website: [16]

  • Dr. Edward H. Salmon, chairman – He also founded Salmon Ventures, “a strategic consulting firm based in New Jersey.”
  • Richard S. Mroz, senior advisor – He “served as Chief Counsel to Governor Christie Todd-Whitman and was responsible for legislative affairs, negotiating the state budget, and advising the Governor and legal and policy matters. He also served as the Governor’s counsel and liaison for the state’s largest independent authorities including the Turnpike Authority, Water Supply Authority and New Jersey and the Environmental Infrastructure Trust.”

We urge our former colleagues in the NJ public interest community to join in our petition or file their own.

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