Obama’s ambitious plans to push renewable energy suffered quite a setback when the key architect working on the project was told to extricate himself from all deals with NextEra, the United States’ largest renewable energy company. The edict came down because of a discovered romantic entanglement between Steve Black, the 51 year old alternative energy advisor to the Interior Secretary who has been working with the Renewable Energy Policy Group, and 28 year old Manal Yamout, a lobbyist for NextEra. While avoiding any potential conflicts of interest will certainly make the uphill struggle for renewable energy smoother, is it worth pushing out one of the biggest names in renewable energy when so much is at stake?
While Black and Yamout working together to organize contracts for the company might not be the optimal solution for a greener America, certainly less drastic measures could have been enacted. For example, could NextEra potentially send a different lobbyist to deal with Black? Perhaps Black’s place in the organization could have been filled by other shoes. Currently there are no claims of foul play from the Renewable Energy Policy Group, which Black is in charge of. With multi-million dollar projects on solar and wind based energy on the line, this is absolutely a high stakes issue for both the government and for NextEra.
At the same time, land owners and public land users are already saying that the renewable energy policies are unfair in their creation. The romantic basis of Black and Yamout’s relationship could really only hurt the current process of reaching for a greener, environmentally friendly America.