Trump Names New Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Member

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

President Donald Trump has officially nominated Bernard McNamee to be the newest member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC), likely boosting the president’s energy agenda.

McNamee — who currently serves as the executive director of the Office of Policy for the Department of Energy — has been officially tapped to fill a vacancy on FERC’s board, according to a Wednesday White House press release. The position has been open since Republican Commissioner Robert Powelson stepped down in August for a job in the private sector.

Before leading the Department of Energy’s public policy office, McNamee headed the Tenth Amendment Center at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank. During his time at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, McNamee wrote an Earth Day op-ed that extolled the benefits of fossil fuels.

FERC is made up of five commissioners that regulate the country’s electricity market, interstate energy commerce, and oil pipelines. There may be no more than three members from the same political party serving on FERC at the same time. Given the commissioner who left was a Republican, Trump was able to nominate another member of his party to the commission. (RELATED: Trump Nominee Could Make Or Break A Proposal To Bail Out Struggling Coal Plants)

Not only will McNamee’s appointment to FERC prevent any 2-2 deadlock decisions with Democratic members, he also appears to be more aligned with the president’s energy agenda than the man he is due to replace.

Many Republicans do not approve of the president’s desire to prop up failing coal and nuclear plants. However, McNamee was behind an earlier effort to bail out coal and nuclear facilities during his time at the Department of Energy. That particular measure was rejected by FERC, but the White House has since drafted a new proposal that wields emergency authority.

Trump’s pick could make or break the measure should it go to FERC for a vote.

McNamee will need to be passed by the Senate Natural Resources Committee and then face a full Senate vote before he could sit on the commission — a process that could take months. Environmental activists, who have vehemently protested the president’s energy agenda, are likely to try and prolong the nomination process for as long as possible, leaving the commission at its current partisan split.

Victory Over InFRACKstructure, Clean Energy Instead (VOICES), for example, has already been working to convince senators not to vote on McNamee’s nomination.

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