Lawyer in stalled coal bailout argues for energy appointment

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats are questioning whether President Donald Trump’s choice for a seat on a national energy board can be objective given his past work on the administration’s plan to subsidize aging coal plants.

Bernard McNamee, an Energy Department lawyer, appeared Thursday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which was considering his nomination to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

At the Energy Department, McNamee helped roll out the Trump administration plan seeking FERC approval to subsidize aging coal plants. That effort has stalled.

“This is like putting the fox inside the chicken coop,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.

McNamee said he’d have to consult lawyers on whether it would be ethical for him to vote on future coal issues.

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