Sign on Letter: Senators, Reject McNamee & Investigate FERC
On October 3rd, President Trump announced his nomination of Bernard McNamee, currently the head of the Department of Energy’s Office of Policy, to be the newest Commissioner to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). I urge you to oppose confirming Mr. McNamee to this seat.
Bernard McNamee is a vocal supporter of dirty fossil fuels. Last year, McNamee helped roll out Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s failed attempt to prop up the coal and nuclear industries, under the pretense of energy security, that would have led to increased pollution and higher energy bills for millions of Americans. In a 2018 Earth Day op ed printed in The Hill, Mr. McNamee applauded the ongoing use of oil, coal, fracked shale gas and other fossil fuels and expressed doubt on the near term viability of clean energy to support our nation’s energy needs. He trotted out the repeatedly debunked line that clean energy only works “when the sun is shining or wind is blowing,” [i] Mr. McNamee suggested that meeting energy needs through clean energy options is not realistic, ignoring the wealth of research demonstrating that not only are clean energy strategies available and growing, but by 2050 clean energy options can well serve U.S. energy needs [ii], while protecting our environment, public health, job creation and the economy all at the same time.
With his pro-fossil fuels position, as a FERC Commissioner McNamee would be very likely to ignore the climate impacts and risks to local communities that result from interstate natural gas pipelines, which are reviewed by FERC. FERC is a known Rubber Stamp when it comes to approving fracked gas pipeline projects. We cannot afford another Rubber Stamp Commissioner to FERC.
October 8, 2018, when releasing its Special Report on Climate Change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made clear that devastating impacts of climate change will be visited on communities across the globe, including here in the United States, if the Earth reaches 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC further warned that some of the worst effects could be avoided if we take swift action to keep warming well below the 2 degree Celsius level. As a result, according to the report, global emissions of CO2 need to be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and to net zero by 2050. In addition, “Modelled pathways that limit global warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot involve deep reductions in emissions of methane and black carbon (35% or more of both by 2050 relative to 2010).”
Pipelines are responsible directly, and in their support of increased fossil fuel development such as fracked shale gas indirectly, for the release of mass quantities of methane and other climate changing emissions. As a result, every natural gas pipeline approved by FERC is preventing our ability to meet the 1.5 degree goal and to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change. Every FERC pipeline approved is putting more families in peril, costing taxpayers billions of dollars in needed response, keeping workers from their jobs and preventing the advancement of clean energy technologies that create 3 to 5 times the number of jobs compared to their dirty fossil fuel counterparts. Waters are being polluted, communities devastated, and the future of our children, our children’s children, and every future generation to come is being jeopardized. Additionally, pipelines are massive investments, so they’re built to last at least 40 years. The pipelines McNamee will surely rubberstamp will be online past the point when we need to be completely off of fossil fuels or will become stranded assets.
In addition to advancing the release of climate changing emissions through the approval of pipelines, FERC is blatantly misusing its authority to undermine the rights of property owners, communities, states and other agencies to question or challenge fracked gas pipelines. FERC uses a loophole called a tolling order to rob people of their legal right to meaningfully access the courts before a project is allowed to take property rights and begin devastating construction. FERC advances projects before state and agency reviews have been completed, thereby undermining and usurping state and agency authority. FERC continues to expand efforts to shut people out of the public comment process, to use third party consultants that have professional relationships with the very pipeline companies and pipeline projects they are supposed to be objectively reviewing for FERC, and FERC continues to allow agency employees with known conflicts of interest to review and approve pipelines.
I join with individuals, organizations and communities from across the nation to urge you to reject Bernard McNamee to fill the vacant FERC Commissioner seat – he is unsuitable for the job.
In addition, I urge you to keep the FERC Commissioner vacancy vacant until you have conducted congressional hearings into FERC’s abuses of its power in order to wrongly advance pipeline projects, including its recent pronouncement that it intends to ignore the climate changing impacts of its decisions. Then, you can put in place needed reforms and a candidate worthy to fill the Commissioner vacancy.
If we are to save our communities, nation and earth, we need FERC Commissioners who recognize science as an important tool for decision-making, who recognize the importance and viability of clean energy on a near term basis, and who recognize that fossil fuels, including their CO2 and Methane emissions, are contributing to devastating impacts on our nation and earth and need to be phased out as soon as possible.
Please, reject Bernard McNamee’s nomination to be a FERC Commissioner, hold hearings into FERC’s abuses instead.
Respectfully and Urgently,
[Signers to be listed in order of sign on]
[i] Bernard McNamee, This Earth Day, let’s accept the critical role the fossil fuel plays in energy needs, The Hill, April 17, 2018, available at
[ii] See Mark Z. Jacobson, et al.,100% clean and renewable wind, water, sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for the 50 United States, 8 Energy Environ. Sci. 2093 (2015); See also National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Renewable Electricity Futures Study: Executive Summary, NREL/TP-6A20-52409-ES (2012).
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