Cantwell Presses FERC Nominee on Trump Coal Bailout

Ranking Member requests documentation of McNamee’s role in DOE NOPR

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, questioned the Trump administration's nominee for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Bernard McNamee, regarding his role in the effort to bail out the coal industry during his employment at the Department of Energy (DOE).

“The one statutory qualification for appointment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is that the nominee be “specially qualified to assess fairly the needs and concerns of all interests affected by Federal energy policy,”’ said Senator Cantwell. “Today, I will be listening for assurances that Mr. McNamee meets that test.”

While serving as the Department of Energy’s Deputy General Counsel in 2017, Mr. McNamee played a major role in Secretary Perry’s proposed rule to subsidize coal and nuclear plants, which FERC unanimously rejected in January 2018. 

“I have been troubled by this Administration’s persistent efforts to try to interfere with our electricity markets in order to subsidize high-cost coal and nuclear generation at the expense of our ratepayers,” said Senator Cantwell.

During the hearing, Senator Cantwell asked McNamee whether “there could be a scenario under which resiliency and shortage of supply would make you believe that you should move forward on a proposal to mandate coal or nuclear power?”

“I think it would be helpful if you could supply to the committee what role you played in the actual formation of this proposal and details about that,” said Senator Cantwell.  

During a July 2018 hearing, Senator Cantwell asked McNamee if he “considers the President’s constant insistence that FERC adopt and mandate coal as the only reliable source of electricity a market-based solution?”

“The President is illogical as it relates to electricity. He’s just trying to make it more expensive...You can’t mandate coal and say you’re for market-based solutions, you just can’t,” said Senator Cantwell.  “We’ve thwarted that at least at FERC but now trying using the National Defense Act, as a way to say you have to have coal on the grid, there is nothing market-based about that.”

Broadcast quality video of Senator Cantwell’s opening statement can be found here.

Broadcast quality video of Senator Cantwell’s questions can be found here.

Witness testimony will be available online immediately before the start of each hearing on the committee website.