Dayton blasts Republicans after nominee ousted for backing clean energy
Repub Senators to Anderson: You aren't down with coal and natural gas? Then get the frack out!
Are you a supporter of renewable energy? Perhaps you've said a derogatory word or two about fossil fuels in the past? Then, in the eyes of the MNGOP, you aren't fit to serve as chair of the Public Utilities Commission.
The first political eruption of the 2012 legislative session happened yesterday after Senate Republicans ousted former DFL Senator Ellen Anderson from her job as PUC chair in a 37-29 party-line vote. Anderson was first appointed to the position last March and didn't need Senate approval until the start of the 2012 legislative session.
In justifying the ouster, Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, chairwoman of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee, said Anderson had "demonized traditional energy sources" and made "derogatory references" to "dirty and dangerous fossil fuels or energy cartels."
The Rosen-led GOP effort to oust Anderson caused Dayton to explode like an oil well.
Those comments "do not reflect well on the nominee," Rosen said, adding that Anderson's views are too "extreme" for a state that needs a balanced energy portfolio.
Anderson's ouster less than a year after she resigned her Senate seat for the PUC job infuriated Dayton, who pointed out that 204 of the 221 votes the five-member PUC board has made since last March were unanimous.
At an impromptu news conference, Dayton said that "a very good person, a very dedicated public servant and an excellent chair of the Public Utilities Commission was wrongly maligned and cruelly rejected today by Republican senators, who showed once again that they are unfit to govern this state."
He took a shot at Senate Republicans for making a stink about a normally uncontroversial appointment at a time when the MNGOP is still dealing with a sordid sex scandal that resulted in leadership upheaval.
"You would think that after their leadership scandals, which caused them to replace all their leaders last month, they would behave themselves for at least a little while," Dayton said.
Out of a job at the Senate, Anderson was immediately hired by Dayton as his senior energy adviser.
There is no word of yet about who Dayton might appoint as his new PUC chair. But, to please the Republican majority, he apparently faces the tall task of finding an energy expert who shares the belief that wind turbines are extreme, that continuing to pollute the environment with scarce supplies of coal and natural gas is the way forward for Minnesota. Good luck with that, Mr. Governor.
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