Thursday, March 23, 2017

Updated: Clean Air Council Calls On PUC Commissioner Powelson To Step Down After Jihad Remarks About Pipeline Opponents

Joseph Otis Minott, Esq., Executive Director and Chief Counsel, Clean Air Council Thursday issued this statement in response to comments made by Public Utility Commission member Robert Powelson Tuesday about opponents to pipeline projects:
“The statements that Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner Robert Powelson recently made to a group of gas industry representatives is abhorrent and seems indicative of how captured he is by the natural gas industry.
“Mr Powelson intended to disparage all Pennsylvanians who care about their private property, the water they drink, and the air they breathe.
“Mr. Powelson used a racially charged term, "Jihad," to not only appeal to the natural gas representatives in the audience, but also to the Trump administration which he is hoping to work for as a commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
“Mr. Powelson should be ashamed of himself, and should issue an apology to the thousands of Pennsylvanians who fight every day for the protections that he believes are only to be bestowed upon wealthy businesses.
“(The) Clean Air Council is calling on Mr. Powelson to immediately resign from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. This type of racial divisiveness and fear mongering is not conducive to meaningful dialogue in the state, and should not be tolerated.”
[Note: The actual quote from the news story was: "The jihad has begun,” he told the audience. “At the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission groups actually show up at commissioners homes to make sure we don’t get this gas to market. How irresponsible is that?”]
             New Powelson Statement
             Late Thursday, Commissioner Powelson issued a statement trying to walk back his comments using the word "jihad" saying, "I used the word “jihad” while characterizing the actions of individuals who have engaged in threatening or disruptive behavior: interrupting public meetings, preventing officials from speaking, harassing federal and state regulators along with their families, and otherwise attempting to halt the public discussion about important infrastructure projects. In retrospect, that was an inappropriate choice of words.”
Commissioner Powelson, according to media reports, is being considered by the Trump Administration for an appointment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission which oversees pipeline approvals.
             In November, Powelson was elected President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.
PUC Commissioner Powelson Slams Pipeline Opponents
Amid Criticism, PUC Commissioner Powelson Walks Back Jihad Remark

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