The Senate has confirmed Trump Administration nominees to fill two of four vacant seats on Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. That gives FERC enough members for a quorum--meaning it can to do official business again. Resignations, term expirations and an appointment backlog at the White House left FERC with too few members for major action for six months.
Local energy attorney Alan Wenger says that disrupted oil & gas industry development in the region because permitting decisions couldn’t be made, but it didn’t stop everything. “The agency has been operating, and as we know locally, has been at least somewhat active in its regulatory aspects of its operations with the Rover Pipeline, with the spills and issues that have erupted in the last several months with that pipeline.”
Robert Powelson a Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commissioner, and Neil Chatterjee, an aide to Senator Mitch McConnell are the new appointees to FERC.
Alan Wenger also says getting the commission back to full functionality is important for legal and regulatory clarity.
“I am concerned that steps the agency had been taking without having the commission members could be questioned by the companies being regulated—as to whether the regulators had the authority to impose the fine they were imposing. Now that should be addressed.”
Even with the two new appointments, the five-member commission still has two vacancies.