President Donald Trump’s (R) Energy Secretary, Rick Perry appointed Daniel Simmons, an advocate of fossil fuels to head the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The move drew criticism from renewable energy advocates like the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
Simmons formerly worked for the Koch brothers-funded Institute for Energy Research (IER) Simmons, and was former director of the natural resources task force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative think tank.
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) also was critical of the Simmons appointment—as well as Trump’s other picks for energy positions. “Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have been busy carrying out Trump’s executive orders that put polluters first,” NRDC said. “Perry, once an advocate for wind power, has now tasked his agency with figuring out how to give coal and nuclear power a boost within the nation’s electricity grid, presumably at the expense of renewable energy.…Perry also nominated Daniel Simmons, an outspoken critic of clean energy (also from IER), to lead the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.’’
“This office fuels innovation in developing and deploying renewable energy and energy efficient technologies,” said John Rogers, senior energy analyst at UCS. “They’re working on wind, solar and geothermal technologies, investing in electric vehicles and finding ways to reduce energy use in buildings.”
“To put someone who thinks the federal government shouldn’t be promoting clean energy in charge of this office is like being assigned a doctor who thinks we shouldn’t use modern medicine. This would be comical if there weren’t so much at stake. As it is, it’s offensive and ironic. It would be great fodder for the likes of Joseph Heller or Kurt Vonnegut,” Rogers added. “Mr. Simmons obviously doesn’t appreciate that the renewable energy industry is today’s engine of economic growth and employs more people than coal and nuclear combined.”
Indeed, the renewables industries employed more 3 million people across the US last year. More and more evidence is piling up that renewable energy is a bigger economic engine for the US than fossil fuels. For instance, The New York Times recently published “Today’s Energy Jobs Are in Solar, Not Coal,” an article comparing the number of jobs in renewable energy to those in those in the fossil fuel industries. Solar alone, according to that article, employed 373,807 people in 2016 while coal only employed 160,119 people last year.Tweet