Nov 21, 2018

Video intensifies scrutiny of Trump's FERC pick on renewables

The path for Trump's choice to fill an open Federal Energy Regulatory Commission seat may be getting more complicated thanks to newly unveiled comments on renewable energy and fossil fuels.

Why it matters: It opens up the nominee to charges that he'll bring an ideological approach to the commission. "FERC is an independent agency whose regulators typically pride themselves on a 'fuel neutral' approach to energy regulation," writes Utility Dive's Gavin Bade.

Driving the news: Utility Dive obtained a video of remarks Bernard McNamee made in February while working for the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation. They report that McNamee, a former DOE official, "sharply criticized renewable energy and environmental groups while calling for a 'unified campaign' to support fossil fuels. ... McNamee ... said fossil fuels are 'key to our way of life,' but renewable energy 'screws up the whole physics of the grid."

  • E&E News reports that the comments are already "roiling opposition" to the nomination.
  • The video is also surfacing at a time when the Trump administration is batting around ideas for aiding economically struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants.

But, but, but: McNamee, in a statement released to both publications, said: "I recognize the significant role that renewables play in our energy mix, and I stand by my statement that if confirmed as a Commissioner, I would be an independent arbiter basing my decisions on the law and the facts, not politics."

Go deeper: Meet Trump's new FERC nominee

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Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wanted to keep his momentum after winning contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hoped to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates were just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination were in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They spoke, sometimes over each other, about health care, Russian interference in the election, foreign policy the economy, gun control, marijuana, education, and race.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 58 mins ago - Politics & Policy

4 takeaways from the South Carolina debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden, right, makes a point during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders listens. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The 10th Democratic debate was billed as the most consequential of the primary thus far, but Tuesday night's high-stakes affair was at times awkward and unfocused as moderators struggled to rein in candidates desperate to make one last splash before Saturday's primary in South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

The big picture: After cementing himself as the Democratic favorite with a sweeping win in Nevada, Sen. Bernie Sanders came under fire as the front-runner for the first time on the debate stage. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be on the ballot for the first time next Tuesday, was a progressive foil once again, but he appeared more prepared after taking a drubbing at the Nevada debate.

Coronavirus spreads to Africa as U.S. soldier in South Korea tests positive

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

A 23-year-old American soldier stationed at Camp Carroll in South Korea has tested positive to the novel coronavirus, as the outbreak spreads to more countries.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 80,000 others, mostly in mainland China. Public health officials confirmed Tuesday the U.S. has 57 people with the novel coronavirus, mostly those repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health