For Immediate Release:
Washington DC – At this Morning’s hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee three activists from Beyond Extreme Energy were arrested while speaking in opposition to Bernard McNamee, who is Trump’s latest Republican nominee to be a Commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
This action put the exclamation point on the more than 25,000 signatures and letters gathered to oppose McNamee’s nomination.
McNamee is a long-time fossil fuel insider and climate denier. He has worked as a lawyer for energy companies, was the energy spokesperson for the conservative think tank, the Texas Public Policy Foundation (funded by Exxon-Mobil and Chevron), and an energy advisor for Senator Ted Cruz, who introduced him at today’s hearing.
Last summer McNamee was instrumental in drafting policy with Energy Secretary Rick Perry to have ratepayers bail out ailing nuclear and coal plants owned by political allies of Donald Trump. When this radical plan was unanimously rejected 5-0 by FERC, McNamee was again part of crafting a plan to use the War Powers Act to force the same subsidy through. That radical plan raised the concern of many members of the ENR Committee, but Politico reports that it was seen as a key “litmus test” for Mcnamee’s nomination to FERC.
BXE and other activists contend that by putting McNamee in a position of power at FERC Trump is seeking to take direct political control of what is supposed to be an independent government agency, all while forcing American ratepayers to buy power from uneconomical power plants that would raise costs on U.S. consumers by billions of dollars per year. Preliminary estimates range from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity projection of about $4 billion per year, to The Brattle Group’s estimate of between $9.7 billion and $17.2 billion per year.
A BXE activist stood up during the hearing, interrupting McNamee as he gave his personal introduction to say “Members of the committee, I have to object to this nominee. I ask you to think about conflict of interest and what a terrible example this nominee is with all his connections to fossil fuel industries.” As he was removed from the hearing room he continued: “Think about all the victims of eminent domain, and the refugees and those killed by the fires and hurricanes. Vote NO ON MCNAMEE.”
Two additional BXE members stood and held a banner reading “Vote No On McNamee!”
All three were taken out of the hearing room and arrested, but have since been released after paying a small fine.
The ENR Committee is to vote soon after Thanksgiving on McNamee and the other nominees to other government agencies. Senator Murkowski (AK) has stated that the decision will go before the full Senate in December.
Activists have been speaking out in opposition to McNamee for weeks — in addition to the tens of thousands of signatures, activists collected letters from citizens and endorsements from more than 100 organizations, and compiled an impressive list of detailed questions and concerns about the nominee. Shortly before Halloween, these same three activists who were arrested today (and others) visited the offices of most members of the ENR Committee dressed as “Super Villians for FERC,” in an action that added a little humor to the question of why they oppose this nomination (video).