Well, the destruction of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) essential functions continues apace as Donald J. Trump seems confused about whether he’s the President of the United States or the CEO of a company (newsflash: In theory, it’s the former, but his most recent DOE appointments indicate he thinks it’s the latter).
OK, kids, let’s see how Trump is “draining the swamp” today.
First in line is Mark Menezes, who Trump thinks will be a delightful lieutenant to Secretary Rick Perry as Under Secretary of the DOE. His job immediately prior to this appointment was – wait for it – as a lobbyist for Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which is currently in a legal wrangle down in Texas over its plans to purchase of Oncor Electric. That case could take an interesting turn between Perry’s Texas contacts and Menezes’ hotline to Buffet. Stay tuned.
Oh, and you know who else he’s lobbied for? According to the Energy and Policy Institute, he’s lobbied for so many companies heavily invested in fossil fuels (including ConocoPhillips, the Koch brothers. and the notoriously anti-renewable Edison Electric Institute). He’s also lobbied for the hilariously named Americans for Affordable Climate Policy, a fossil-fueled front group whose list of issues looks like a laundry list that would make fossil fuel advocates salivate.
And his clients include enormous utilities like Duke Energy, Xcel Energy and Southern Co. (that’s just three – the list is far too long to list all of them here). In an era where there battles between the utilities and solar industry grow sharper every day over issues like net metering, demand charges and other attempts to hamper solar’s growth, Menezes’ connection with them seems important to note (although I’m sure Trump sees this as a feature, not a bug).
Then there’s his appointment of Paul Dabbar as undersecretary for science at DOE. His background is notable primarily for his lack of any science experience. What is his experience? Like many of Trump’s other appointments, he hails from a Wall Street investment bank (although not Trump’s favorite, Goldman Sachs. Maybe he’s appointed all the Goldman Sachs executives so there are no more left to appoint).
The White House press release notes that Dabbar was the managing director for mergers and acquisitions and had “more than $400 billion in investment experience across all energy sectors including solar, wind, geothermal, distributed-generation, utility, LNG, pipeline, oil & gas, trading, energy technology.” Which would be fine if he were being appointed as the Under Secretary of Buying and Selling Energy Assets.
Alas, such a position doesn’t exist (yet), so sure, let’s appoint a guy with no science experience to be the Under Secretary of Science at the DOE. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Maybe it’s just me, but this whole “draining the swamp” project Trump promised during the campaign doesn’t seem to be going so well, unless by “draining the swamp” Trump really meant “clearing out anyone who knew anything about the subjects they were working on so that he could bring in his business cronies and anti (insert department name here) lobbyists.”
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect those held by pv magazine.