“The Senate’s reckless decision to place Bernard ‘Coal Bailout’ McNamee on FERC is a major threat to the Commission’s independence and integrity,” said Mary Anne Hitt, senior director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “From this day forward we will do everything we can to guarantee that he follows the law, treats clean energy sources fairly, and recuses himself from all matters pertaining to his failed coal bailout scheme. It’s essential that we have a fair and lawful FERC moving forward.”

McNamee will serve as one of five commissioners on the panel, making regulatory decisions regarding the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, hydropower, and oil.

The new commissioner, critics argue, is far from an impartial judge of such issues, having stated in February 2018 that fossil fuels are “key to our way of life,” while renewable energy “screws up the whole physics of the grid.” Footage of the statement, made in a speech he gave as an employee at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, surfaced last month.

“Mr. McNamee’s bias, so clearly in favor of fossil fuels and against renewables, should disqualify him for this position,” said Rob Cowin of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). “The only winner here is the coal industry. States with large renewable energy industries, such as Kansas and Iowa, have a lot to lose.”

“Most of all,” Cowin added, “the climate loses. We have about ten years to aggressively reduce carbon emissions or we are going to destroy this planet, and we are looking at a pro-fossil fuel, anti-renewables political operative with a massive conflict of interest at FERC. The partisanship is really striking.”

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