Attorney General Becerra Calls for FERC Commissioner McNamee to Recuse Himself from Decisions on Fossil Fuel Subsidization

Monday, January 28, 2019
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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today joined a coalition of 10 attorneys general in calling for Bernard McNamee, a new Commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), to recuse himself from a pending FERC proceeding evaluating the resilience of the bulk power system, as well as any future, related proceedings. In the written comments filed today, the attorneys general state that before his appointment to FERC, Commissioner McNamee actively promoted the subsidization of uneconomic and highly polluting fossil fuel resources to retain dirty electric generation facilities. They assert that as a result, any reasonable observer would conclude that McNamee cannot be objective when making FERC decisions on grid resilience.

“FERC’s job is to act fairly and impartially to oversee our power grid,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Commissioner McNamee is a former lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry. He has demonstrated bias in favor of dirty coal generators to the detriment of other energy sources including clean renewables that are more economically sustainable. He has already prejudged the outcome of the current grid resiliency proceeding and must recuse himself immediately.”

Commissioner McNamee was a lead proponent of a rule proposed by the Department of Energy (DOE) in 2017, which suggested that FERC subsidize inefficient, uneconomic, and polluting coal plants. After the proposal was rejected by FERC, McNamee continued to promote the same policies, and appeared in a widely publicized video describing the choice between fossil fuels and renewables as a “constant battle between liberty and tyranny.” Earlier this month, McNamee recused himself from the DOE-proposed rulemaking, a decision supported by a FERC ethics official who cautioned that continued oversight of McNamee’s involvement in future FERC decisions on grid resilience was needed. However, McNamee has not recused himself from this or any future proceedings regarding grid resilience.

Joining Attorney General Becerra in signing on to today’s comments are the attorneys general of Massachusetts, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Vermont as well as the District of Columbia. 

A copy of the comments can be found here.

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