They could seem the most bureaucratic of appointments, just a few of several that Governor Maura Healey has made since settling into office. But her administration is casting her two climate-friendly nominees to help lead the Department of Public Utilities as a first step toward overhauling a critical agency that she has lambasted as ineffectual and too cozy with natural gas interests.
The new appointments — Jamie Van Nostrand, a law professor and clean energy advocate from West Virginia, and Staci Rubin, a Boston-based environmental justice specialist at the Conservation Law Foundation — starkly contrast with the commissioners they replace.
People familiar with the department’s inner workings said the new commissioners will have exceptional power to quickly change the department’s priorities, in part because they effectively act as judges atop a bureaucracy organized by the principles of the judicial system.
“It’s like a court,” said Amy Boyd, vice president of Climate & Clean Energy Policy at the Acadia Center, which advocates for clean energy. “They can choose how to sequence their docket, and the commissioners decide what takes priority.”
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