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Trump wants to fill vacant energy agency seat with DOE official who supports coal bailout plan

James Clarke

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President Donald Trump reportedly plans to fill a vacancy at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with a former top official at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative research and advocacy group that advocates for deregulation. Powelson, a Republican appointee, led the charge against the president’s plan to prop up financially struggling coal and nuclear plants.

If McNamee gets confirmed, it’s likely Trump’s bailout plan will have a better shot of getting the necessary approvals from FERC.

The TPPF Center for Tenth Amendment Action conducts research into ways that the federal government’s powers should be limited.

At least half a dozen former TPPF officials hold positions in the Trump administration, seemingly explaining why the think tank does not want to upset its close relationship with the White House by coming out against one of Trump’s signature energy policy proposals. The group’s views also align with Trump’s strong support for the fossil fuel industry, including the burning of coal. Because there is “No free market” in the energy industry, according to the argument, saving uneconomic plants from retirement will not undermine market functions.

But as a commissioner at FERC, McNamee would be a part of an independent federal agency that is statutorily required to ensure the transmission and wholesale sale of electricity and natural gas across state lines is regulated in the public interest.

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