Rocky Mountain Why: Michigan’s new energy regulator hails from think tank behind discredited gas stove study
Carreon’s background is in electric vehicles. Whitmer wants 2M on Michigan roads by 2030.
Michigan has a new energy regulator. Filling the third and final spot on the Michigan Public Service Commission is Alessandra Carreon, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office announced this week.
Members of the Michigan Public Service Commission are appointed by the governor. Carreon’s past should be worrying to the 10 million Michiganders who prefer reliable energy.
“Prior to her appointment,” the governor’s office said in announcing the appointment, “Ms. Carreon was a manager for Carbon-Free Transportation at RMI.”
Normally an obscure initialism such as RMI would be spelled out. But given recent history, it’s no wonder Whitmer’s office played coy.
RMI is the Rocky Mountain Institute. It’s a left-wing green energy concern. That part is not surprising.
But the Rocky Mountain Institute earned notoriety recently for its role in a discredited study that blamed gas stoves for elevated asthma rates and other health maladies. RMI blamed the gas stove, singlehandedly, for 13% of childhood asthma cases in America.
Say it out loud. Let the ridiculousness of the idea breathe air: Their study found that a single type of appliance was “linked” to 13% of childhood asthma in America.
The study broke down under scrutiny, noted Jason Hayes, the Mackinac Center’s director of energy and environmental policy, in a February op-ed for The Hill. The Washington Examiner challenged the study in great detail.
“With other academics and experts critiquing the study for effectively ignoring a host of other environmental factors that could have caused the asthma issues — ‘mold, traffic pollution, habits of individual families’ — the authors appeared to backtrack,” Hayes wrote.
“One author said the study ‘does not assume or estimate a causal relationship’ between childhood asthma and natural gas stoves but instead ‘only reports on a population-level reflection of the relative risk given what we know about exposure to the risk factor.’”
This is politics. Not science, and certainly not public health. And yet it was the Rocky Mountain study formed the basis of the Biden administration’s push against the gas stove.
At a personal level, it was Carreon’s work with electric vehicles that likely drew Whitmer’s attention.
“She was a leader for electric vehicle (EV) battery circularity projects that focus on equitable fleet electrification and accessible EV charging infrastructure,” the governor’s announcement read. “She draws from her experience in environmental, social, and corporate governance and sustainability within the automotive industry to consider EV life-cycle impacts when accelerating electrification.”
Whitmer wants 2 million electric vehicles on Michigan roads by 2030, a goal the public service commission has signed onto. When the commission directed DTE Energy to make peak-hour pricing mandatory from 3 to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, electric vehicle chargers were exempt.
After every effort to favor the EV, their ownership numbers in Michigan doubled — to 37,000.
Jason Hayes, the Mackinac Center’s director of energy and environmental policy, said the Carreon appointment continues a troubling pattern for Whitmer.
“The governor appears to have doubled down on her habit of selecting commissioners with a history of activism and/or experience in the environmental movement, including ‘climate action,’ environmental consulting, the energy transition, electrification, and ESG,” Hayes told CapCon.
James David Dickson is managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.