published Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

David Cook: Senators leave us in the dark

Open letter to Tennessee senators on TVA
Open letter to Tennessee senators on TVA

It's not because of her qualifications. No way, Jose.

Dr. Marilyn Brown is one of the most qualified people on the planet to sit on the TVA board. Her resume is 26 pages long. She's a rock star; if Lebron James was into energy efficiency, he'd be Marilyn Brown.

Nobel Prize co-recipient. More stuff published than she can remember. Years at Oak Ridge National Lab. A professor at Georgia Tech. Easily one of the smartest people in the South.

But two weeks ago, her resume shrank a bit. All because U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker refused to recommend her renomination to the TVA board, where she's been serving for the past two years.

"We encourage the president to send another nominee with credentials better suited to the TVA board," their joint statement read.

Friday, a pact of nine state and national environmental groups delivered a response, an open letter to the senators, requesting two things:

The senators explain their reasons for blocking her reappointment;

And, if the White House resubmits her name for nomination, that they approve it.

"We have not heard back from either Senate office," emailed Jennifer Rennicks, director of policy and communications with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Tuesday afternoon.

The question hangs in the air like smog: Why? Why would the senators blacklist and block the renomination of our Southern expert?

You'd think they would love her. She has a plan to save you and me billions in energy costs by 2020. Isn't saving money what Republicans are known for?

"I often was unable to convince some board members that energy efficiency was a good investment for TVA," Brown recently told The Tennessean.

What? It's not leprosy. Or socialism. Energy efficiency is about saving money and energy for the environmental and economic good of our region, especially at a time when weather (enjoying the rain?) is becoming more and more unpredictable.

"The utilities that pursue and fund initiatives in energy efficiency will be the most successful utilities in the next five or 10 years. The ones that don't won't be," said Jimmy Sandlin, head of the Scottsboro Electric Power Board, who also said he was pleased with TVA's work toward energy efficiency.

In recent months, Corker has been outspoken about needing to inject the board with business leaders and those with corporate board-level experience.

A fine idea.

But to flood (pun intended) the board with nonacademic business leaders while at the same time blackballing a global expert in energy efficiency is to negate a most valuable perspective. Like blinding yourself.

Blacklisting Brown also sends a threatening message to the now nearly all-male board, some of whom reportedly had no idea Brown would get left at the door. Alexander and board Chairman Bill Sansom are decades-old friends. My hunch is that Sansom and Brown were ideologically opposed on more than one level.

(Is this what happens to people who disagree?)

Blacklisting Brown also sends an offensive message to you and me -- customer and citizen -- that big decisions like these aren't important enough to warrant a meaningful explanation.

Like this is a middle school dance, where some people get invited and others secretly don't.

After calling Monday and then calling again Tuesday, I got an emailed response Tuesday afternoon from Corker's office. It's essentially the same quote he gave The Tennessean. (Alexander's office did not respond to my request for comment.)

"We approved four of the five people that were nominated, and while Ms. Brown certainly might be qualified to serve as a consultant to TVA, we felt the board would be better served with a different nomination," the email read.

Once again, this doesn't answer anything. Like Marilyn Brown, we're left in the dark.

Maybe you should try calling.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
conservative said...

These supporters would suffice my opposition:

Mr. Cook

Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment

Tennessee Environmental Council

Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club

Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning

Tennessee Clean Water Network

Tennessee Conservation Voters

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

The Environmental Integrity Project

The Natural Resources Defense Council

Can two walk together except they be agree? Amos 3:3

January 16, 2013 at 7:36 a.m.
Easy123 said...

Same ignorance from conservative, just a different day.

January 16, 2013 at 8:12 a.m.
AndrewLohr said...

easy didn't answer conservative, he just reviled him.

January 16, 2013 at 9:50 a.m.
Easy123 said...


I don't answer Bible verses.

January 16, 2013 at 9:56 a.m.
Easy123 said...


Again, you're an ignorant moron.

January 16, 2013 at 10:41 a.m.
conservative said...


Don't forget The Nobel Peace Prize winner of 1994 Yasser "Ararat"

Now that was one man who truly reflected the values of that group.

Easy123 probably meant joneses, not you

January 16, 2013 at 11:10 a.m.
Easy123 said...

I meant all three (two) of you.

January 16, 2013 at 11:27 a.m.
Easy123 said...


I'm not attacking. I'm stating facts. You are ignorant. There is no better way to put it.

I call the claims you make false because they are false and often supply citations that prove that the things you say are false. Other times I omit the proof because you never provide any for your own claims.

You're just mad because you get called out. You have no credibility with any rational person here.

January 16, 2013 at 11:32 a.m.
conservative said...

What I find laughable about reasons given by Mr. Cook for supporting this woman is this:

"especially at a time when weather (enjoying the rain?) is becoming more and more unpredictable."

These global warming kooks think they can control the weather!

However, the inability and futility of that endeavor was aptly expressed long ago:

"Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

January 16, 2013 at 12:12 p.m.
dao1980 said...

But conny, why would anyone care at all what a dishonest coward like you thinks?

You don't even believe in the weather, you think it's all magic.

I still can't figure out why you're using a computer.. when science is all bunk to you.

January 16, 2013 at 12:17 p.m.
dao1980 said...

At least my endeavors are valid JR ;)

Now don't you have a goat to go snuzzle? Maybe cousin somewhere that needs kissin??

January 16, 2013 at 12:25 p.m.
Easy123 said...

JonRoss is another whiner. It's not our fault you and conservative are ignorant!

January 16, 2013 at 12:25 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Apparently, conservative has never heard of meteorology.

January 16, 2013 at 12:31 p.m.
dao1980 said...

Easy, is that the some dern science about rocks outta the sky??

It clearly says in Reverlintions 4:612 that that's called brimstone, and we daint need to know nothin more about it.

Dont'cha know that science is the devils work!

Yins better quit thinkin' them deep thoughts or the debil's gonna gitcha!!

January 16, 2013 at 12:36 p.m.
dao1980 said...

You thought correctly this time! rah rah sis boom ba! Go.. JR!

Haha, I gotta celebrate, JR having a completed thought is a rarity, much less one that's correct.

Though, it does kinda seem like your just advertising now..

January 16, 2013 at 1:18 p.m.
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