Cooper Reconsidering Executive Director Nomination
SAN JUAN – Word on Capitol Hill is spreading that Bill Cooper, who had once been the consensual favorite to become executive director of the Financial Oversight & Management Board, is reconsidering his availability for the post.
“Bill is now scared because he is getting a lot of hate mail, the news stories being written on him, the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] investigation, the FBI running around and collecting documents,” one lobbyist on Capitol Hill tied to the GOP told Caribbean Business. “So, he’s thinking do I do this and deal with all of the personal backlash or do I keep my job on the Hill and doesn’t have to deal with craziness.”
Cooper, who had been involved with the energy sector, came on board with Chairman Rob Bishop to help in drafting Title V of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, (Promesa), as well as other provisions. No sooner had Cooper’s name been leaked as leading candidate to hold the Promesa post than critics were out in full force.
As previously reported by Caribbean Business, the chorus of discontent over his potential confirmation traced to his very active role in the drafting of the legislation, particularly as pertains to Title V because it contains provisions to expedite a conversion from oil to natural gas and renewables in Puerto Rico as defined under applicable laws. His involvement in drafting that language was troubling for some because of his previous role as former president of the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, a trade association of producers, shippers, terminal operators and developers.
“Bill was instrumental in helping to amend the language to insert the language that created the interagency environmental subcommittee to appease the environmentalists,” one high level source tied to the GOP told Caribbean Business.
That information was corroborated by a staffer with knowledge of Promesa’s drafting and amendments. “The interagency environmental subcommittee was one of the inserts that appeared in one of the last rounds as I would review the text. I cannot tell you which of the legislators inserted that,” the staffer said.
“It is a very irrelevant provision because, the way Title V reads, if I am a project proponent I have to try to convince the revitalization coordinator and the government of Puerto Rico that the project I am proposing should be a critical project, which means that it should meet many of the criteria under the definition of a critical project. With some of the energy projects, there are additional criteria such as the diversification of combustible, the development of renewables, reducing a reliance on oil and that sort of thing,” the source added.
Cooper’s involvement in pushing a bill that essentially outlines Puerto Rico’s need to convert from a reliance on oil to natural gas calls into question how this bill will benefit the natural gas sector from which the designated executive director comes.