Dr. Marilyn Brown Reappointed After Unnecessary and Petty Delay

Stephen Smith | September 13, 2013 | Energy Policy
Dr. Marilyn Brown

This week we received welcome news that Dr. Marilyn Brown had been reappointed to the TVA Board.  This re-appointment concludes a lengthy process that was delayed by some petty moves by our Tennessee Senate delegation.  If you recall, Dr. Brown was first nominated to the Board in 2010 by President Obama to complete a vacated term, and was re-nominated for a full five-year term last year.  However, her name was mysteriously absent when the nominees for the TVA Board of Directors came before the Senate for a vote on January 1, 2013.  Turns out, Senators Corker and Alexander had blocked her nomination through procedural maneuvering.  In a joint statement issued at the time, Senators Corker and Alexander stated, “We respect her professional credentials, but we encourage the president to send another nominee with credentials better suited to the TVA Board.”

We maintained from the beginning of Dr. Brown’s appointment odyssey that she has impeccable qualifications for the post.  She has a strong record of experience at both the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where she managed multimillion dollar energy research projects, and at Georgia Tech, where she teaches graduate level courses in energy technology and policy. She is a widely acknowledged expert on energy issues, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and the electric grid.  The senators’ thin objections to her qualifications received widespread attention in local media at the time, including a scathing editorial in the Chattanooga Times Free Press that denounced Corker and Alexander’s actions as “irrationally partisan, ” and a Knoxville News Sentinel piece blasting the senators for failing to read Brown’s impressive resume with “clear eyes and sound minds.”

Tennessee Senators Bob Corker (left) and Lamar Alexander (right)

You can read the letter we sent to Senators Corker and Alexander in cooperation with other organizations in TVA’s service territory requesting reconsideration of Dr. Brown, and the response that Senator Corker sent back to us. We feel Senators Corker and Alexander‘s extremely narrow focus on candidates with business backgrounds overlooks the multifaceted mission of TVA and the complex role of TVA Board members.   The addition of an energy expert, in concert with the business leaders already serving on the Board, helps to deepen the Board’s ability to engage on the energy issues that are TVA’s bread and butter.

We look forward to working with Dr. Brown as she rejoins the Board.  It’s certainly a critical time for TVA and her knowledge and experience will be a welcome addition.

Stephen Smith
Dr. Stephen A. Smith has over 35 years of experience affecting positive change for the environment. Since 1993, Dr. Smith has led the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) as…
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