Bernard McNamee Nominated to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

by admin on October 4, 2018

McNamee nominated to FERC

Report: Trump nominates former DOE policy head McNamee to FERC

From an Article by Gavin Bade, Utility Dive, 10/3/18

>>> President Trump has nominated Bernard McNamee, head of the Department of Energy’s Office of Policy, to fill a vacancy on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission set to open this Friday, Politico reports.

>>> McNamee will take the place of departing Commissioner Robert Powelson, who will step down to head the trade group for America’s private water companies, three unnamed sources told the outlet. The White House, DOE and FERC did not respond to requests for comment.

>>> McNamee helped roll out the DOE’s ill-fated coal and nuclear bailout plan that was unanimously rejected by FERC in January. That DOE bailout plan was a litmus test for potential nominees, according to Politico, but it remains unclear if McNamee’s vetting is complete or when he will be nominated.

Utility Dive Insight:

If confirmed to FERC, McNamee would likely fall more in line with the White House’s energy priorities than Powelson, who routinely criticized the administration’s efforts to save uneconomic nuclear plants from retirement.

McNamee helped pitch the DOE’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which would have provided cost recovery to plants with 90 days of fuel onsite, pumping the plan at regulatory conferences and defending it in front of Senate lawmakers last month.

“A lot of the organized markets have distortions in them that aren’t representative of an actual free-serving market, so the thought is you need to remove some of those distortions and get some more parity,” McNamee said in response to a question from Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

The argument echoes a frequent talking point from Secretary of Energy Rick Perry — namely that there is “no free market” in the energy industry, so saving uneconomic plants from retirement will not undermine market functions.

During the same hearing, McNamee also defended DOE’s authority to keep plants online using its emergency authority under Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act, saying it has been used in a “variety of contexts,” like the California energy crisis. McNamee’s perspective on 202(c) could be material, since FERC sets the rates for emergency cost recovery if a generator and regional grid operator cannot agree.

McNamee has only been in his current role as the head of DOE’s policy office since May. Before that, he headed the Tenth Amendment center at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank with ties to Perry.

During his time there, McNamee wrote an Earth Day op-ed for The Hill extolling the virtues of fossil fuels, writing that “some suggest that we can replace fossil fuels with renewable resources to meet our needs, but they never explain how.”

Prior to the Texas foundation, McNamee was a deputy general counsel at DOE, chief of staff to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and an aide to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

If nominated to FERC by the White House, McNamee would need to be confirmed by the full Senate after hearings and votes at the Natural Resources Committee. That process could take months, allowing Democrats to deadlock FERC votes in 2-2 ties.



Bernard Leonard McNamee
US DOE (joined: May 28, 2017) Departed Feb. 2, 2018
Deputy General Counsel for Energy Policy, Office of the General Counsel | $179,700

Former Positions Outside Government

BSM Family Trust — Trustee (Uncompensated)
McGuireWoods LLP — Senior Counsel
Office of the Attorney General of Texas — Chief of Staff

Former Compensation Sources

Dominion Resources — Legal services
McGuireWoods LLP — Provided legal representation and advice to the firm’s clients.
Nisource — Legal services
Novi Energy — Legal services
Office of the Attorney General of Texas — Served as Chief of Staff in the Office of the Attorney General of Texas. Helped manage the office, staff, and assist in the development of legal strategy and policy.

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Sierra Club October 10, 2018 at 9:44 pm

Trump Admin.’s Frantic Rush of Coal Bailout Backer McNamee a Sign of Politics Entering Into Independent FERC

From a Press Release of Brian Willis, Sierra Club, October 10, 2018

WASHINGTON – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee announced today that it will take up the nomination of coal bailout architect Bernard McNamee to FERC next week in a hurried political move to inject the Trump administration’s political agenda of backing unnecessary fracked gas pipelines and supporting a nationwide coal bailout into the historically independent agency.

In response, Mary Anne Hitt, Senior Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, released the following statement:

“Bernard McNamee is clearly a political plant by the Trump administration who will rubber stamp dangerous fracked gas pipelines and push coal bailout schemes that will force taxpayers to pay tens of billions of dollars to prop up uneconomic coal plants. Now, the Trump administration and its allies in the Senate are rushing McNamee forward because they know that the more the public learns about his record, the more they will demand he be rejected.

“McNamee is the architect of the administration’s coal bailout proposal and a corporate polluter careerist. It’s outrageous that Senate Republicans are trying to force his nomination through without due diligence or a reasonable timeline to get all the facts on the record. This is indicative of a concerted effort to erode FERC’s longtime independence and that his nomination is not about his philosophy or qualifications, but the politics of doing the fossil fuel industry’s bidding at the federal level.

“McNamee represents a threat to the wallets and the health of people across the country. The committee must use next week’s hearing to examine his record and past statements to Congress, especially those he has made in support of the coal bailout that FERC voted down earlier this year. After such an examination, it should be clear that McNamee’s nomination be rejected by the committee.”



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