Senate Democrats are likely to give Bernard McNamee much more pushback after a video surfaced of him derailing renewables, environmentalist groups, and advocating for fossil fuels.
McNamee — President Donald Trump’s pick to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) — has maintained that he will be an independent and fair regulator if confirmed by the Senate, saying as much during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
“I know I can honestly say that I will be an independent arbiter if the issues comes before me at FERC. I think it’s important to look at the law and the facts and make those decision based on that,” McNamee said Nov. 15 before committee members and Democrats questioned his impartiality over renewable energy and fossil fuels.
If confirmed, McNamee would serve as a Republican member of FERC, a five-member agency that regulates the country’s electricity market and interstate energy commerce. FERC also plays a major role in overseeing crude oil and natural gas pipeline projects.
However, a recently surfaced video could make McNamee’s confirmation process a whole lot harder.
“Renewables, when they come on and off, it screws up the whole the physics of the grid,” McNamee stated back in February in a video obtained by Utility Dive. “So when people want to talk about science, they ought to talk about the physics of the grid and know what real science is, and that is how do you keep the lights on? And it is with fossil fuels and nuclear.” (RELATED: Trump Expected To Lose Another Ally On The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission)
McNamee’s speech was during his time working for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank. Beyond his criticism of wind and solar, he also assailed climate change activists.
“The green movement is always talking about more government control because it’s the constant battle between liberty and tyranny,” he went on. “It’s about people who want to say I know what’s better for you.”
The FERC nominee said at the time that fossil fuels weren’t something dirty, but “key to our prosperity, our way of life and also to a clean environment.”
The newly unearthed video could spell trouble for McNamee, who was already catching heat from Democrats for his previous work at the Department of Energy. During his time at the DOE, McNamee was behind a push to bail out failing coal and nuclear plants. That plan, coincidently, was rejected by the very agency he is aiming to serve on — FERC.
Oregon Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden, who sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, already announced his intention to vote against McNamee, citing his work on the bailout plan. Other Democrats are likely to follow suit.
However, given that the GOP controls the Senate, it’s still likely that McNamee will be confirmed. Republican Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkwoski, the chair of the committee, said she approved his comments. Democratic West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin — who represents a coal-friendly state — also praised McNamee’s work on energy issues.
McNamee must be confirmed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and then by the entire Senate chamber in order to serve on FERC.
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