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Shaheen, Hassan Call for FERC Commissioner McNamee’s Recusal from Future Business Involving Potential Subsidization of Coal and Nuclear Plants

Shaheen Has Led Efforts in the Senate to Improve Transparency at the FERC

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) sent a letter with a group of 15 Senators yesterday, calling for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Bernard McNamee to recuse himself from any future business at FERC involving the potential subsidization of coal and nuclear plants. In their letter, the Senators expressed concerns regarding Mr. McNamee’s actions in his previous role at the Department of Energy (DOE) in developing and filing a rule to subsidize failing coal and nuclear plants, as well as his recent public comments implying bias against renewable energy technologies. As one of the lead agencies responsible for developing energy infrastructure and ensuring reliability of the electric grid, FERC has ultimate jurisdiction over the rates and services of the wholesale electricity markets and natural gas pipeline siting and permitting. 

“We are concerned about positions you have taken, both while serving as the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Deputy General Counsel for Energy Policy and in the private sector,” the Senators wrote. “These positions and statements suggest a lack of independence and an inappropriate predisposition on a number of topics likely to be involved in proceedings that will come before you in your new role as a FERC Commissioner.” 

The Senators continued, “Moving forward, and particularly as FERC considers matters related to grid resilience and reliability, we urge you to remain true to your commitment to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to be ‘fair, objective, and impartial’ and to work with your colleagues ‘to fulfill (FERC’s) mission to ensure just and reasonable rates under the law.’ With that in mind, we urge you to recuse yourself from any future FERC proceedings where your impartiality could be questioned based upon your past statements, positions, or work on the DOE NOPR.” 

In addition to Senators Shaheen and Hassan, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Ed Markey (D-MA). 

A copy of the letter can be found here. 

Shaheen has led efforts in the Senate to reform the FERC to be more transparent and to better help private citizens who participate in the agency’s proceedings. Last year, Shaheen reintroduced the Public Engagement at FERC Act, which Senator Hassan cosponsored. The bill would create an Office of Public Participation and Consumer Advocacy at the FERC to help residential and small commercial energy consumers in participating in FERC proceedings, ensuring the public has a strong role in shaping the nation’s energy future.