Committee Reviews FERC, Park Service, and Nuclear Energy Nominees

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired a hearing to consider nominees for the Department of Energy (DOE), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and the National Park Service. 

The nominees were Dr. Rita Baranwal to be Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy at DOE; Mr. Bernie McNamee to be a member of FERC; and Mr. David Vela to be Director of the National Park Service.

Murkowski opened the hearing by noting the ongoing tragedy with wildfires in California, which have led to significant loss of life and tremendous devastation. She then spoke to Dr. Baranwal’s current role at the Gateway Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear program at Idaho National Laboratory and the importance of her new role, should she be confirmed.

“Dr. Baranwal will have the opportunity to help shape the future of nuclear energy—not just here in the United States, but globally, as well,” Murkowski said. “Her experience and expertise will help as we seek to become a global leader in advanced nuclear innovation.”

Murkowski reinforced with Mr. McNamee what she prioritizes as the role of the FERC.

“FERC is an independent agency and must continue to function as such,” Murkowski said. “Mr. McNamee has assured me that he recognizes the importance of maintaining FERC’s autonomy and is committed to taking an independent role at the commission.”

“FERC plays a vital role, along with the states and the private industry, in powering America. If confirmed, I would be committed to seeing that this success continues. To that end, I think that markets are the best way to allocate resources and set prices,” McNamee said. “And if confirmed, I am committed to continuing FERC’s independence in its decision making.”

Murkowski also welcomed Vela, who is the first Hispanic American tapped to lead the National Park Service.

“Our national parks are some of our nation’s greatest treasures. In order to ensure our parks are here for future generations, we must balance our ability to enjoy and explore them while preserving the natural and cultural resources that are part of the system,” Murkowski said. “The Park Service needs a leader who can find that balance and address the deferred maintenance backlog, while also overhauling the internal culture of harassment of all kinds.”

Murkowski announced she intends to hold a business meeting to report these nominees to the full Senate shortly after Thanksgiving. At that point, the committee will have up to 10 nominees pending on the Senate calendar, including many who are not considered controversial, and Murkowski expressed her hope that they will be confirmed before the end of the Congress.

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video and witness testimony from today’s hearing are available on the committee’s website. Click here and here to view Murkowski’s questions for the nominees.

Related Issues: Energy