United States

United States

Fossil fuel proponent nominated to FERC seat

UNITED STATES: The White House has announced Bernard McNamee, currently head of policy at the US energy department, to fill a vacant seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Bernard McNamee has been nominated for the vacant seat at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (pic: Ryan McKnight)
Bernard McNamee has been nominated for the vacant seat at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (pic: Ryan McKnight)

While at the Department of Energy, McNamee would have helped energy secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to prop up failing coal and nuclear plants on the grounds on national security.

The plan was rebuffed by FERC in January 2018, but DOE came back with a similar proposal in June.

McNamee would replace Robert Powelson, who resigned from the commission in August. McNamee could sit until the end of the Commission’s term in June 2020.

In response, Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, said the nomination was a "clear assault on FERC’s independence".

"We’ll do everything we can to stop his Senate confirmation. From just a quick look at his resume, the speeches he’s made, and his past associations, it’s clear McNamee is nothing more than a political plant for energy secretary Rick Perry and Donald Trump.

"If the Trump administration moves forward with its scam to bailout the coal industry, taxpayers and electricity customers will be forced to pay tens of billions of dollars to subsidise these uneconomic coal plants for years, plants that instead could be replaced by cleaner, cheaper energy today."

Fossils support

Writing for The Hill website in April for ‘Earth Day’, McNamee supported fossil fuels and the role they play in the US energy system:

"We have been told that fossil fuels are wrecking the environment and our health.  

"The facts are that life expectancy, population and economic growth all began to increase dramatically when fossil fuels were harnessed — and have continued to do so for the 200 years since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

"When one thinks about it, it makes sense. Fossil fuels have allowed people to be more productive, to engage in less backbreaking manual labor, and to grow more food.

"Some suggest that we can replace fossil fuels with renewable resources to meet our needs, but they never explain how.

"About 63% of electricity generation comes from fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, petroleum, and other gases), with about 20% from nuclear energy.

"Renewable wind and solar, however, only provide about 7.6% of our electricity needs (6.3% wind and 1.3% solar) — and this is only when the sun is shining or wind is blowing.

"This does not mean we should not use renewable energy. Of course we should. But these facts do mean that we need to be honest about whether renewables can displace other energy resources in providing for our energy needs."

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