WASHINGTON, D.C.— The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has advanced President Donald Trump’s nomination of Bernard McNamee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by a vote of 13-10. The nomination now heads to the Senate floor.
Democrats tried, but failed, to delay the vote. Many have opposed his nomination since it was announced because of McNamee’s work with the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Department of Energy, specifically Secretary Rick Perry’s plan to bail out the coal and nuclear industries. FERC is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil and reviews proposals to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines as well as licensing hydropower projects.
Things got more intense after a video was released of a speech McNamee gave back in February when he was the director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
In the speech, he promoted fossil fuels and nuclear over renewables. He named several environmental groups, such as EarthJustice, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Environmental Defense Fund, who he said were promoting an “organized propaganda campaign against fossil fuels” and said they were trying to return the “administrative tyranny.”
He added that if people wanted to talk about the science behind it all, they should speak about the physics of the grid. “The real science is keeping the lights on,” he said. And that is with nuclear and fossil fuels, he added.
Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, voted no on the nomination because she said she didn’t feel McNamee could be an impartial reviewer.
“I would have liked to take Mr. McNamee at his word when he assured me that he would be ‘a fair, objective, and impartial arbiter,’ and that he would decide these matters coming before him ‘based on the law and the facts,’” Sen. Cantwell said. “But after the video surfaced of Mr. McNamee’s speech on fossil fuels, I find it hard to believe…”
McNamee currently serves as the executive director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Policy.