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Bush Nominates Tainted Insider for Key Energy Regulatory Post

Feb. 11, 2003

Bush Nominates Tainted Insider for Key Energy Regulatory Post

Joseph Kelliher Delivered Enron’s “Dream List” While Shutting Out Consumers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen today criticized President Bush’s choice of Joseph Kelliher for a seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and urged the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to reject or delay the appointment until a full investigation is complete. In a letter to members of the committee, Public Citizen noted that Kelliher’s controversial role as a top adviser to the Cheney energy task force raises questions about whether he can protect consumers from Enron-style price-gouging and market manipulation. (Click here to read the letter)

“Joseph Kelliher is perhaps the worst nominee the president could choose for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “As the right-hand man to the energy secretary, Kelliher abused his position to curry favor with energy companies in the crafting of Bush’s energy plan and helped fulfill Enron’s ‘Dream List’ when the company’s lobbyist came calling. Now more than ever, FERC needs an independent-minded commissioner who will base decisions on the facts, not the desires of special-interest lobbyists.”

Recently released documents reveal that Kelliher played a central role in soliciting advice from the energy industry for inclusion in Vice President Cheney’s energy task force report. In many cases, energy company lobbyists offered detailed policy proposals that were passed on to the president by Kelliher and adopted not only into the energy plan but into law. None of the released documents included communications between Kelliher and consumer groups or public health organizations, which were essentially excluded from participation.

A lobbyist representing Enron wrote Kelliher about his client’s “dream list.” Many of Enron’s recommendations, which including asking the administration to commit to market-based emissions trading, were adopted as part of the administration’s National Energy Policy. In addition, lobbyists for the oil and gas industry drafted proposed executive orders that Kelliher passed on the White House. Two months later, the president issued executive orders nearly identical to those the lobbyists sent to Kelliher.

“The future of America’s energy markets is at a crossroads,” said Tyson Slocum, research director for Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. “By nominating a tainted industry insider, President Bush has made it clear that he is willing to abandon consumer protections in favor of promoting the Enron agenda.”