Senate confirmed 2 FERC nominees with no discussion 2017-08-03

The Senate took less than two minutes to confirm Neil Chatterjee and Robert F. Powelson as FERC Commissioners, taking it up even earlier than we suspected. The only voice heard voting was Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that had forwarded their names. It’s not clear any other Senators were even in the room; certainly none spoke up at any point. She praised the new Commissioners and added that they would “help facilitate the buildout of an aging infrastructure and the add-on of new infrastructure”, which of course means more pipeline boondoggles when the country and the world need to get on with sun and wind power.

Reading the nominations

Worse, there are not one but two more FERC nominees in the pipeline, including a proposed Chair very friendly with pipelines and fossil fuels.

CSPAN, Senate Session, August 3, 2017, The Senate resumed consideration of the motion to proceed to H.R. 2430, the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017.

08:28:34 The Clerk:

Nominations Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Neil Chatterjee of Kentucky to be a member. Robert F. Powelson of Pennsylvania to be a member.

08:28:42 Ms. Murkowski:

Mr. President, I ask consent that the Senate vote on the nominations en bloc with no intervening action or debate, that if confirmed the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table en bloc, the president be immediately notified of the Senate’s action, that no further motions be in order and that any statements relating to the nominations be printed in the record and the Senate resume legislative session.

Sen. Murkowski asks for en bloc vote with no intervening action or debate

08:29:02 The Presiding Officer:

Is there objection? Without objection. The question occurs on the nominations. All those in favor say aye. All those opposed say no. The ayes appear to have it. The ayes do have it. The nominations are confirmed en bloc.

President calls the vote; only Murkowski can be heard to speak.

08:30:05 [6:29 PM ET] Ms. Murkowski:

Mr. President, I want to take just a moment and thank those that have worked so hard to make sure that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will have a functioning forum — quorum. and more than just having a functioning quorum, to know that the quality of individuals that we are sending to the ferc as commissioners, it truly is impressive to see. Neil Chatterjee, who I think without doubt almost all of us on this floor know, has been working here in the Senate, working in the Leader’s office for years, has been an invaluable asset to me and my staff on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee; extremely knowledgeable, extremely committed and dedicated and has just been a real pleasure to work with him.

I don’t know Mr. Pokelson — Mr. Powelson, I know that the expertise and the kre drengses he will — credentials that he will bring to the commission is recognized.

Sen. Murkowski praises a functioning quorum at FERC

We are much that we are angelina — anxious to see happen when we are talking about infrastructure and our energy assets and what we can do to help facilitate the buildout of an aging infrastructure and the add-on of new infrastructure. But in order to proceed with much of this, you have to have the FERC actually operating working through the permits. It is substantive work, it is challenging work, it is work that has now been stacked up for months and months. So knowing that the FERC will be able to commence its operations again with a quorum is really good news today.

I think it is also important to note that the White House sent up this week two initial names, that of Mr. Glick and Mr. McIntier and hopefully we will have a full complement to this important commission.

Gavin Bade, UtilityDIVE, 14 July 2017, Trump nominates Republican energy lawyer McIntyre to head FERC,

  • President Trump on Thursday nominated energy lawyer Kevin McIntyre to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. McIntyre, a Republican, leads the energy practice at Cleveland law firm Jones Day.
  • McIntyre is Trump’s fourth FERC pick, following the nominations of fellow Republicans Neil Chatterjee, a Senate aide, and Robert Powelson, a Pennsylvania utility regulator. Democratic Senate aide Richard Glick is also expected to be named to the agency, but has not been formally nominated.
  • FERC currently has only one sitting regulator, acting Chair Cheryl LaFleur, and has been without a quorum since February. LaFleur would remain on the commission but vacate her position as commission chair if McIntyre is confirmed to the post.

That article says the delay in the Senate considering Chatterjee and Powelson was: “but those discussions have been tabled in favor of healthcare negotiations…”.

FERC couldn’t get a more fossil-fuel-friendly Chair:

In McIntyre, FERC would get a business-oriented chair with a diverse practice background. At Jones Day, he represented Exelon and natural gas companies before FERC, advised on transmission rate cases, and worked on a number of energy acquisition cases.

I heard this news via a post shared on various facebook groups by ECHO Action NH: #FossilFree603 Environmental Justice Network, which noted:


I admit I never heard of that NH group before, but I agree with their sentiment.

To start with, there are two more nominations to oppose, and there are more things you can do.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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