For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Brian Willis, 202.675.2386, Brian.Willis@sierraclub.org

Senate Recklessly Confirms Coal Bailout Architect and Fossil Fuel Proponent Bernard McNamee to FERC

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate confirmed coal bailout architect and fossil fuel proponent Bernard McNamee to the technology-neutral Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today, despite strong opposition from public health groups, environmental organizations, and elected leaders. In addition to being a lifelong fossil fuel lawyer, McNamee has proven to be an overt opponent of America’s clean energy revolution, going so far as to belittle the solar and wind industry’s growth in front of a major fossil fuel group and awkwardly promoting coal, oil, and fracked gas use on Earth Day.

Given the pivotal role that FERC serves in protecting consumers, ensuring reliability, and robust competition, it is critical that all parties appearing before the Commission have confidence that it is technology-neutral and guided by the evidence and law.  McNamee’s expressed hesitation to recuse himself on issues related to the coal bailout scheme he engineered while serving in a political capacity at the Department of Energy has raised red flags by ethics watchdogs. The bailout was widely panned by an diverse array of groups and stakeholders, and unanimously voted down by FERC. Many of these groups are encouraging McNamee to preemptively recuse himself from considerations to both protect FERC’s independence and avoid legal challenges to FERC decisions in the future.

In response, Mary Anne Hitt, Senior Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, released the following statement:

“The Senate’s reckless decision to place Bernard ‘coal bailout’ McNamee on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is a major threat to the Commission’s independence and integrity. 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.”

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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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