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Trump names nominees to restore FERC quorum

Published by , Assistant Editor
World Pipelines,

Chosen by Trump, Neil Chatterjee, a senior energy adviser to Mitch McConnell, and Robert Powelson, a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission since 2008, are expected to be nominated to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). An announcement of Trump’s nomination plans was made by the White House on 8 May.

As reported by Bloomberg, if these two nominees take positions in the agency, this would bring FERC one step closer to being able to rule on key natural gas pipelines. While, at present, just two slots are filled on the five-member panel, FERC requires a minimum of three members to issue substantive orders, regulations and policy initiatives on projects that are worth billions of dollars.

As explained by The Intelligencer, FERC was left with just two members when FERC’s then-chairman Norman Bay stepped down, which, in turn, left the commission short of a quorum. The current lack of quorum prevents FERC from taking action on major gas pipeline requests, including over US$50 billion of pending project applications, according to Bloomberg.

FERC has been without a quorum since early February, which has concerned lawmakers and industry groups. Moreover, according to The New York Times, “one of the two remaining commissioners [Colette Honorable] has said she will step down later this year. This will drop the number of commissioners to one, providing another opening for Trump.

Trump plans to nominate Chatterjee and Powelson for terms expiring in 2021 and 2020, respectively, claims Bloomberg.

Trump’s nominations require Senate vetting and approval by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Bloomberg has cited Senator Lisa Murkowski, the committee’s chairman, as stating that said she plans to clear the nominees quickly. This would restore the quorum and allow processes to continue.

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