December 06, 2018

Van Hollen Statement on Nomination of Bernard McNamee as Member of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen released the following statement regarding the nomination of Bernard McNamee as a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC):

MR. PRESIDENT, President Trump has nominated Bernard McNamee to be a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

FERC is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil. FERC also reviews proposals to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines as well as licensing hydropower projects.

Historically, FERC has been independent and non-partisan.  I am concerned that if confirmed, Mr. McNamee would threaten the non-partisan independence of FERC.

Mr. McNamee has a long-standing history of being an opponent of clean energy and led Texas’ efforts to challenge the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan.

In remarks before the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) and sponsored by Koch Industries in February 2018, Mr. McNamee said fossil fuels are "key to our way of life," but renewable energy "screws up the whole physics of the grid." He also portrayed industry lawsuits with environmental groups as a "constant battle between liberty and tyranny."

While at the Department of Energy, Mr. McNamee was a key player in the agency’s failed attempt to bail out the coal industry and upend wholesale energy markets.

Furthermore, I am very concerned that Mr. McNamee will take us backwards in the fight to combat climate change.  Just recently, the Trump Administration tried to bury the release of the Forth National Climate Assessment report, and its alarming statistics on the realities of climate change. The report found that annual average temperatures in the United States are projected to continue to increase in the coming decades and that human health and safety, our quality of life, and the rate of economic growth in communities across the U.S. are increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.  In my home state of Maryland, the report found that one of Maryland’s crown jewels, the Chesapeake Bay, will experience stronger and more frequent storms, an increase in heavy precipitation events, increasing bay water temperatures, and a rise in sea level.

Mr. President, FERC’s independence is critical to its mission and Mr. McNamee, if confirmed, would be a significant departure from that. 

And his history as being a supporter of the fossil fuel industry, an opponent of clean energy, and an opponent of progress to combat climate change are alarming.  I oppose his nomination to be a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).