The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, is an independent agency under the Department of Energy that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil; reviews proposals to build liquefied natural gas terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines; and licenses hydropower projects, among other responsibilities. FERC is designed to be impartial and free from political influence.

With the nomination of Bernard McNamee to head FERC, President Donald Trump is once again trying to inject major coal and oil industry bias into a federal agency. While holding other positions at the DOE, McNamee assisted in drafting a proposal to provide taxpayer subsidies to coal plants which are no longer economical. While this proposal was unanimously rejected by FERC earlier this year, pushing for bailouts for the coal industry would clearly be a conflict of interest if McNamee were to be appointed to lead FERC.

I am urging Maine Sen. Angus King, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, to vote against McNamee’s nomination when it comes before the committee on Nov. 15. McNamee has serious conflicts of interest, as his past policy statements clearly show. The headline in Utility Dive newsletter right after McNamee’s nomination read “Coal lobby pleased as Trump nominates ally McNamee to FERC.”

Neither Maine nor the country as a whole will benefit from more environmentally harmful pipelines, drains on the taxpayers to support an obsolete coal industry which is no longer economically viable, or more obstacles to developing clean energy technologies, all things which McNamee has lobbied for in the past.

McNamee is not the individual we need to head FERC as we work toward a clean energy future for Maine. King needs to stand up for Maine constituents by refusing to support sending McNamee’s nomination to the full Senate for a vote.

Belinda Bothwick lives in Fayette.


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