A coalition of environmental, faith and civic organizations is criticizing Gov. Larry Hogan’s most recent appointment to the Public Service Commission, calling it the latest effort to undermine renewable energy in the state.
Hogan quietly appointed Del. Anthony J. O’Donnell, R-Calvert and St Mary’s Counties, to serve on the board that oversees utilities, phone and taxi services. O’Donnell was elected to his sixth term in 2016.
Douglass Mayer, a Hogan spokesman, praised O’Donnell for his “professional, public, and personal experiences and background make him incredibly well qualified for this position. He has represented his constituents extremely well for many years and the governor is confident he will bring the same passion and level of dedication to this new role.”
O’Donnell, 55, will replace Anne Hoskins, who was appointed in 2013 by Democratic former Gov. Martin O’Malley.
In a statement, the Maryland Climate Coalition Friday expressed concerns about the appointment, calling it the “latest in a troubling series of moves by Governor Hogan to undermine the expansion of renewable energy in Maryland.”
“In his past twelve years in office, Delegate O’Donnell has demonstrated strong opposition to expansion of offshore wind, the renewable portfolio standard, the EmPOWER Maryland program, and other programs likely to come before the Commission,” the group said in a statement. “Through his appointments, and his recent vetoes, Governor Hogan is sending a clear signal that Maryland is closed to business, when those businesses are aimed at reducing Maryland’s contribution to climate change, cleaning up Maryland’s air, and bringing thousands of new clean energy jobs to the State. He is instead, levying taxes on Marylanders’ health and quality of life. The Governor may have endorsed a new greenhouse gas reduction goal for the state, but he appears to be undermining the fundamental programs we will use to meet that goal. We are deeply concerned by the short-sighted and dangerous approach by this administration to our economy and our environment.”
A more formal announcement of O’Donnell’s appointment is expected in the future once a start date is determined, Mayer said. O’Donnell will have to resign his seat in the House of Delegates.
This is Hogan’s third appointment to the panel. those appointments have not been without controversy.
In 2015, one of Hogan’s appointments to the panel was pulled back after senators expressed concerns about political statements made on social media.
Last year, the Senate nearly rejected the appointment of Michael Richard because of emails that raised concerns that Richard was coordinating with the governor rather than acting independently.