Trump’s newest FERC nominee is just as corrupt as you think.

We’ve written before about how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rubber stamps new pipelines and fossil fuel infrastructure, locking us into decades fo climate chaos. And in particular how Trump’s FERC has acted again and again to prioritize fossil fuel profits over the health, safety and civil rights of American citizens.

So, in context, Trump’s latest FERC nominee James Danly doesn’t look all that surprising. But in this case, dangerous things come in bland packages:

Danly, who currently serves as the general counsel to FERC claims to be a “humble regulator.” But what he actually means:

Danly’s credo draws on core tenets of the Federalist Society, an influential group of conservatives and libertarians … said several attorneys who practice before FERC

https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060534923

That’s right, Danly wants to take control of America’s energy infrastructure the same way Brett Kavanaugh and Trump’s other wildly unqualified, super-conservative, almost-always-white-male judges are taking over the judiciary. And, not surprisingly, he wants to get there in a similar way to how Kavanaugh got on the court.

Our best chance to stop Trump’s latest ultra-conservative nominee is to bottle up his nomination in a committee hearing. Can you sign here to tell the Senate Energy Committee to vote no on James Danly, Tump’s latest climate-denying FERC nominee?

Here’s the short version of how we got here: FERC has seen record turnover since Trump was elected. With the departure of Democratic Commissioner Cherly LaFleur earlier this summer, there are only three commissioners left, two Republicans and one Democrat). That’s barely enough for a quorum, and gives the last remaining Democrat, Richard Glick extra leverage to block votes or halt projects by refusing to participate.

At the same time, there’s been an explosion in protests and opposition to pipelines. Inspired by campaigns against the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines, activists have been rising up to resist fossil fuel infrastructure from coast to coast. We’ve been part of a number of those campaigns and I know you have been too. At the same time, our allies have been suing every pipeline they can to slow them down and stop the approval process. And in a few very important instances, the combination of those tactics – the lawyers suing and the people protesting – have combined to stop big projects like Keystone and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

So the fossil fuel companies are getting nervous. They’ve been enthusiastically backing Trump’s attempt to pack the court, and are betting billions of dollars that the Supreme Court will back them where lower courts have consistently sided with landowners, the environment, and climate action.

And that’s where Danly comes in: Fossil fuel profiteers and their cronies in the Trump Administration can only win in court if they have regulators who ignore the lower courts. They’ve succeeded in firing or driving out thousands of civil servants at the EPA and Interior Department, and replaced them with lifelong fossil fuel cronies like Andrew Wheeler and David Bernhardt. Those guys were put in charge because they were corrupt, but not cartoonish, as their predecessors Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke had been.

Just like Wheeler is a less-ridiculous but equally-evil alternative to Pruitt, Danly is a less flamboyant version of Bernard McNamee – the Republican FERC nominee who drew unanimous opposition from Senate Democrats just about 1 year ago. Danly claims to be more moderate, but he’s the legal mind behind FERC’s refusal to even consider the climate impacts of pipelines and projects it reviews.

And, just like Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Danly’s nomination follows a Republican campaign to stack FERC with their preferred commissioners. FERC commissioners are usually nominated in pairs – one Democrat and One Republican – to maintain the legally required balance on the commission. But Danly marks the third Republican nomination in a row, and comes even as a Democratic Nominee to replace LaFleur is waiting for consideration. It’s part of a continuing trend to pack the FERC with Trump-style fossil fuel allies.

Danly’s first hearing is tomorrow, but he wont get a vote in the full Senate for a few weeks. So sign now and we’ll deliver your name to the Senate ASAP!

Up in the air to stop the pipelines

This morning, I got up early, climbed a ladder 35 feet up, and perched on top of the front door of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with a banner that reads “FERC NO, Federal Renewable Energy Commission YES!”

It’s not a 100% safe, or legal way to make a point. But I thought it was important enough, and that this is a critical moment in which to make this point. 

Let me explain:

The Federal Renewable Energy Commission (FERC) is the agency in DC responsible for regulation of our interconnected electricity grids, as well as review, permitting and (almost always) approval of natural gas infrastructure in the United States. It’s already a powerful agency that oversees billions of dollars in infrastructure and is empowered to act on matters that can affect your monthly utility bill, and even seize your house or land and evict you through a process called eminent domain. Allies of the fossil fuel industry in DC have fought for years to expand those powers – so that FERC would oversee oil pipelines too, and would have stronger and more expedited powers to force through fossil fuel infrastructure.

For years we’ve battled against FERC and those who want to expand its powersWe’ve fought FERC orders to expedite fracking and new pipelines and LNG terminals. And we’ve been arrested and protested at multiple Senate hearings on FERC and opposed legislation to expand its powers.

But all along we’ve maintained it doesn’t have to be this way. FERC has a clear set of responsibilities that could be really helpful in fighting climate change – they could direct utilities to price renewable electricity more favorably than fossil fuels. They could also stop approving every new fossil fuel project that is proposed to them – especially big new fracked gas pipelines and export terminals, which will lock us into dangerous methane – a climate pollutant 86x more powerful than CO2 – for 30 years or more. 

Hence – FREC, the Federal Renewable Energy Commission. Our vision is that as part of a Green New Deal, Congress would re-make FERC into an agency that prioritizes the climate crisis and acts to implement the renewable energy future we wall want.

It was even starting to work – In the last 12-24 months we’ve seen cracks between the FERC commissioners, with the two Democrats dissenting on many votes and deadlocking – effectively blocking – approval of new pipelines and gas export terminals. When asked why they are saying no, Democrats at FERC say they hear from the courts, the public, and from scientists that they need to do a better job measuring and addressing the impacts these projects have on climate change.

And then, last week, Donald Trump poured gasoline and methane all over that raging fire of a debate:

In a series of Executive Orders, Trump made plain he intends to use the Department of Energy (which oversees FERC), EPA and other federal agencies as a cudgel to ram through new oil and gas pipelines. Taken together with a series of state-level laws that ban protest at pipeline construction sites, Trump’s fossil-nationalism says this: 

  1. Fossil fuel companies should be paid more than any other energy sector. If ratepayers disagree, or the market simply moves in a different direction since the fuel for renewable energy is free, the Government will subsidize fossil fuel companies and force you to pay more money for dirtier energy.
  2. If fossil fuel companies want to build a pipeline through your town, put a compressor station on your front yard, or an export terminal where you fish, they can do so. Their wish is your command and they can take your land, your tribe’s land, or your town/state’s land to do it. If you think that’s unfair, you don’t want a pipeline in your front yard or sacred places, even if you take the time to convince your city council, tribal council, governor, mayor or other elected officials to join you in opposing the project, they will all be overruled. What’s yours, what’s sacred, what belongs to all of us in common – none of it matters. The fossil fuel industry gets what it wants, and you -as a ratepayer and a taxpayer – will pay them for it whether you like it or not.
  3. If you’re a shareholder, an investor, or a capitalist of any kind that believe climate change is a real, urgent threat – companies are ordered by the FEC to ignore you, and your right to talk about climate chaos, fossil fuels and investment strategy that does not burn the planet down is blocked. If you try and speak out anyway, your status as a licensed investor can be challenged and you can be removed from public exchanges. Fossil fuels are the only way to make money, and any dissent will be punished.
  4. Oh and if you resist, if you lay down in front of the machinery of destruction and put your body on the line to stop this madness – you will be arrested, probably by heavily armed federal agents, and put in jail. In an increasing number of states, simply praying for peace in the path of a pipeline could get you locked up for a decade or longer.

Which is why I’m up here. We have a clear plan for how FERC can stop being part of the problem, and transform into FREC – a part of the solution. Trump and Co. are clearly not going to help implement that vision, but Congress might – and you can help! Here’s how:

  1. Check out the livestream and photos from our partners in action at BXE above
  2. If you’re interested in supporting our work, click here to chip in – we have more actions planned this spring at Shareholder meetings and corporate gatherings!
  3. Call Chuck Schumer at 202-224-6542 and Nancy Pelosi at 202-225-4965 to urge them to support legislation to replace FERC with FREC.

Make McNamee’s First Day The Worst Day

Today is the first commissioners meeting at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for Bernard McNamee — Trump’s climate denying, coal loving nominee who squeaked by in the closest confirmation vote EVER for a Trump nominee. Our friends from BXE are headed into the hearing room to “welcome” Mr McNamee — and you can back them up by making a quick call!

Make a direct call to Bernard McNamee’s new office at FERC. The number is  202-502-8510

Not sure what to say? Here’ a few suggestions:

  • I’m calling to welcome Mr. McNamee to FERC, and ask that he immediately resign in disgrace. Don’t worry, lots of Trump appointees have already done this (Flynn, Pruitt, Ryan Zinke just resigned last weekend!)
  • I was one of the tens of thousands of people who called and wrote to the Senate opposing Mr McNamee’s nomination because of his close ties to the fossil fuel industry, and his outrageous statements on climate change and environmental groups.
  • Now that McNamee is at FERC, he must recuse himself from any case involving the oil, coal, or gas industries, or any conversation involving climate change and its impacts on US Citizens. His past comments and work at the Department of Energy, as well as in the private sector, show him to be unfairly biased.
  • I’d like to thank Mr McNamee for making it so much easier to sue FERC. Thanks to his reckless disregard for climate science, clean energy, alternatives to fossil fuels, grid resilience and basic common sense, we have a much better chance of prevailing against FERC in court. Still,I wish he’d just resign so we didn’t have to go through the trouble and expense of suing you every single time.

You get the idea.
You’ll remember that McNamee was Trump’s climate-denying nominee to FERC who was specifically chosen because he denies cliamte change and has written policies to bail out the coal industry.  But he only came under fire in the  Senate Energy Committee when we found video of a speech he he gave calling for a “unified campaign” to support fossil fuelsIn that speech, he also falsely claimed that renewable energy “screws up” the grid and and described any legal opposition to pipelines and cliamte change as a “constant battle between liberty and tyranny.”​

That lead to the unprecedented scenario where every single Senate Democrat voted against McNamee’s confirmation — a feat that has never happened before, not even on the nominations of Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke, both of whom have resigned in disgrace since. McNamee’s bias is so blatant that 17 Democratic Senators and Harvard Law School have told  him to recuse himself from anything where his impartiality should be questioned.

So, while McNamee taking a seat on FERC is bad, it’s also full of conflict, protest and clear conflict of interest – And we can use that. Our friends from BXE will be in the room where it happens today to tell McNamee to his face (they’ll have a report later today on how it went) in the meantime – you can make sure McNamee knows you’re watching by calling his office and making his first day on the job his worst day ever.

Make a direct call to McNamee’s new office at 202-502-8510

They told us that it’s over Re McNamee, it’s not

We only have a few hours to Stop McNamee for good, so I’ll make this fast:

Something amazing happened late yesterday in the US Senate: After weeks of our calls, emails, deliveries, protests and a personal visit from me and a team of BXE activists to Chuck Schumer Monday Every Democrat in the Senate took a stand for climate action.

Specifically, they all — even the Joe Manchin — voted NO on the vote to end debate on Bernard McNamee’s nomination. He’s Trump’s climate-denying nominee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, check out this video from Bernie Sanders, or read the back posts if you need a refresher.

Now, we have until about Noon to add one or two Republicans to that unified Democratic front, and we can actually stop McNamee for good. Three Senators are key to this fight: Susan Collins, Jeff Flake and Joe Manchin.

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the video recorded right after our meeting with Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer’s office. Something we said must have struck a chord, because after that meeting Schumer gave a strong speech against McNamee. It’s just what we needed to reflect the growing Democratic outrage at Trump’s climate-denying, fossil fuel loving nomination0 as part of a thinly veiled scheme to subsidize coal and nuclear power to the tune of ratepayers (like you and me) paying an extra $34 billion dollars.

But here’s the thing – 49 Senators, EVERY. SINGLE. DEMOCRAT. voted NO on the cloture vote for McNamee. 51 votes in favor of McNamee was enough to advance the nomination, but I have to pause a second and remind you what a big deal this is. 49 Democrats didn’t vote NO on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. 49 Democrats in the Senate did not vote for climate legislation in the US Senate under Barack Obama. 49 Democratic Senators have never, ever, voted as a block on climate change before.

Today, at 12 noon, the actual vote, up or down on McNamee, will take place. It’s a very long shot, but we have a chance to win that vote. These Senators are critical, so we’re giving you three ways to contact each of them.

Not Sure what to say? These calls can be super short – the most important thing is to tell them to vote NO on McNamee. Some special wording for our three priority Senators is below, provided by our friends at Beyond Extreme Energy:

For Susan Collins, the message is this: “You can’t say, ‘The federal government cannot afford the billions of dollars in additional funding that is going to be needed if we do not take into account and start acting on the serious consequences of climate change,’ and then support an outspoken climate denier and fossil fuel extremist. Vote no on McNamee!.”

For Jeff Flake, the message is this: “You can’t support allowing all energy sources to compete on an even playing field, and you can’t believe that picking winner and losers is not the federal government’s job, and then support anti-renewables McNamee. Vote no on McNamee!”

And for Joe Manchin, the message is this: “Thank you for voting yesterday against cloture on debate over Bernard McNamee. Today, you need to be consistent and, since Republicans shut down debate, vote no on McNamee. Do the right thing again today!”

Last I just want to leave you with the words of a song a young(er) climate activist taught me at the Cuomo Walk the Talk action earlier this year. It seems appropriate to today:

They told us that it’s all over
They told us that the world gets colder
They told us it’s too much on our shoulders
We believe that we will win
We believe that we will win

Stop McNamee, Block Manchin, Act on Climate with a Green New Deal

If you’re one of the more than 30,000 people who already signed our petition stop Bernard McNamee: Thank you. (If not, sign here)

You’ll remember that just last week McNamee was under fire in a Senate Energy Committee over a speech he he gave calling for a “unified campaign” to support fossil fuels. He also falsely claimed that renewable energy “screws up” the grid and and described any legal opposition to pipelines and cliamte change as a “constant battle between liberty and tyranny.”​

Trump and his puppet Mitch McConnell know that Mcnamee’s nomination will never stand up to public scrutiny – so they’re rushing a vote McNamee today — Monday December 4!  But they may have overplayed their hand.

Senator Maria Cantwell and allies from the Energy Democrats have vowed to fight, and there’s a chance we can stop this nomination on the Senate floor, but only if we call right now! Dial (833) 261-7330 right now and tell your Senators to vote NO on Bernard McNamee?

Not sure what to say? These can be quick calls there are two basic points you need to make:

  1. Bernard McNamee is a dangerous nominee – he’s corrupt, unqualified, a climate-denier and part of Trump’s plan to force ratepayers to bail out coal and nuclear power.
  2. Senators MUST vote NO on cloture and NO on his nomination, and must ensure that all votes are recorded. No unanimous consent or procedural gimmicks (that’s how we got the last three Republican FERC commissioners).

Your calls today are part of a coordinated series of actions to get Senate Democrats, in particular, to step up on climate. Here’s a quick explainer recorded early this morning.

I’ll be all over Capitol Hill today and posting regular updates through Social Media. Check it all out and keep up with us on our Facebook page​, but here’s a quick Rundown:

Later this morning, friends from Sunrise NYC are headed to Chuck Schumer’s office in New York to demand he lead on Climate Change by supporting a Green New Deal, and blocking Joe Manchin from becoming chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Manchin, you may recall, was the only Democrat to vote for McNamee last week in the committee — yet another example in a long line of how out of touch his is with Democrats and common sense on climate change. But, because of the archaic rules that govern the Senate, and because Democrats lost seats in the senate last month, when the new Congress is sworn in there’s a real chance Manchin — the only Senator to have publicly ​shot​ a climate bill in a campaign ad, with a rifle — would be the leading Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Manchin, like McNamee, is a test of Chuck Schumer and the Senate Democrats willingness to lead, and fight, on climate change.​Which is why I’ll be amplifying the Sunrise team’s action this morning, and going to Schumer’s DC office this afternoon to re-iterate their demands and ask Schumer to lead the fight to stop McNamee, Block Manchin, and act on Climate.

And there is reason to be hopeful – since other Democrats in the Senate are leading on this issue. In fact, if you want to end your day on an optimistic note, tune in with us for Senator Bernie Sanders’ live town hall on climate change tonight at 7pm Eastern. Bernie will be joined by Bill McKibben, Shailene Woodley, climate scientists and more. I’ll be there live and you can tune in with us online here.​

Last chance to Stop Trump’s climate-denying Energy Nominee

Donald Trump has nominated Bernard McNamee – a deeply unqualified, republican-hack, and climate-denier – to fill the vacant Republican seat at the Federal Energy Regulatory commission (FERC). The Senate is moving at “warp speed” to ram this latest dastardly, destructive nomination through.

McNamee’s confirmation hearing has been scheduled for November 15 at 10am. We’re headed to DC now with friends from Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) to deliver more than 13,000 signatures opposing McNamee. If you haven’t signed yet, now’s the time!

If you agree that we can’t afford one more climate-denying Trump nominee in charge of our energy policy, sign here to tell the Senate: vote NO on McNamee and stop Trump’s FERC!
Bernard McNamee is Trump's FERC nominee
I wrote a longer piece with more footnotes and references that make the case for why and how Trump is stacking FERC with partisan fossil fuel warriors. Check it out and keep telling everyone that this is not normal, it is not ok, and it is essential that we take action in this time of climate crisis.

You may also want to check out the excellent explainer on McNamee from our friend Karen Feridun at Berks Gas truth.

Not one more Climate Denying FERC Nominee!

Donald Trump has nominated Bernard McNamee – a deeply unqualified, republican-hack, and climate-denier –  to fill the vacant Republican seat at the Federal Energy Regulatory commission (FERC). The Senate is moving at “warp speed” to ram this latest dastardly, destructive nomination through.

This is bad – red-alert, 4-alarm BAD. But I have good news, too. On October 16 we’re going to the Senate with friends from Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) to deliver a loud and clear message: We can’t afford one more Climate Denying Trump Nominee in charge of our energy policy. The Senate must vote NO on McNamee and stop Trump’s FERC!

Let’s be perfectly clear: We think any nominee is a bad idea, because preserving the deadlock at FERC – where the two remaining Democrats are often at odds with the two remaining Republicans – is our best chance at stopping new pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

But even allowing that we don’t want anybody to be confirmed, McNamee is worth fighting. He has been a lifelong advocate for fossil fuels, and is a climate denier. Sign here to demand the Senate vote vote NO on Trump’s latest climate-denying, community-wrecking nominee; Bernard McNamee!

He’s completely unqualified to oversee energy policy: He has no experience in the utility or natural gas utility industries, let alone our complicated and interconnected system of electric utilities. He once wrote a letter to The Hill about how fossil fuels “dramatically improve the human condition” – on Earth Day no less!

More importantly, he was a leading author and architect of Trump and Rick Perry’s dangerous plan to bail out coal and nuclear plants last year; a plan so obviously biased in favor of fossil fuels and the corporations who profit off them that even FERC voted 5-0 to deny it. After the unanimous rejection by FERC, McNamee has been hard at work looking for a legal, or extra-legal loophole to order that we pay some $34 billion in subsidies to failing coal and nuclear plants.

Having failed to find a legal way to apply national-socialist principles to every American’s utility bill, Trump seems to have decided that it’s simply faster to pack the FERC – just like he’s packing the courts. This is only the latest example of Trump appointing dangerously unqualified loyalists to high-ranking positions at FERC: FERC chief of staff, Anthony Pugliese  told a far-right Breitbart News podcast that FERC was working to approve McNamee’s coal and nuclear bailout, and repeated the statement to a nuclear energy conference.  Pugliese’s collusion is so extreme that even moderate Democrats on the Senate Energy Commitee have said it “call[s] into question the impartiality and independence of the Commission.”

McNamee’s nomination is obviously be part of a plan to ram through more fossil fuels. And FERC’s Republican majority is clearly complicit. Pugliese was brought into FERC by former acting-chair Neal Chaterjee and Chairman Kevin McIntyre seems ready to go along with him, saying on Twitter “I look forward to serving with McNamee.”

McNamee is clearly unqualified, dangerous, and denies the urgent, imperative science of the most recent report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changewhich unequivocally states that we have to cut all emissions of global warming pollution (including methane which is ~80x more potent of a climate-pollutant than Carbon Dioxide) 50% in 12 years, and 100% by 2050.

It’s up to our Senators to ask serious questions of McNamee, and the remaining four commissioners who have allowed the agency to become mired in partisan, climate-denying scandal. And ultimately, it’s up to each and every one of our Senators to vote NO on McNamee. Sign here to tell them so.