The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on November 15 favorably advanced the nominations of Dr. Rita Baranwal (Assistant Secretary of Energy (Nuclear Energy)) and Bernard McNamee (Member, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) to the full US Senate.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chair of the committee, spoke to Bernard McNamee’s nomination in her opening statement. She highlighted FERC’s role as an independent agency tasked with impartial oversight of energy markets. Mr. McNamee’s testimony emphasized the importance of encouraging energy infrastructure and hardening systems to combat potential cybersecurity intrusions. During his nomination hearing, Mr. McNamee did not commit to recuse himself from future matters involving administration efforts to support baseload generation in the United States. As a result, if he is confirmed to the open Republican seat, a Republican majority will exist on the Commission to vote on any such proposals.
Senator Murkowski also highlighted Dr. Baranwal’s experience in the field, which Senator Murkowski believes makes Dr. Baranwal uniquely situated to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy. In her written testimony, Dr. Baranwal stated that she would draw upon her previous public and private sector experience in the nuclear energy industry to “execute the Office’s mission of advancing nuclear power to meet the nation's energy, environmental, and national security needs.”
The committee approved the nomination in a 13-10 vote. The nominees will next be considered for confirmation by the full Senate.