FERC quorum restored as Senate okays Powelson, Chatterjee nominations

Aug. 14, 2017
The US Senate effectively restored the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's quorum on Aug. 3 as it approved the nominations of Rob Powelson and Neil Chatterjee to be commissioners by unanimous consent.

The US Senate effectively restored the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's quorum on Aug. 3 as it approved the nominations of Rob Powelson and Neil Chatterjee to be commissioners by unanimous consent. Oil and gas trade associations and other business groups immediately applauded the action that made FERC fully operational again after 6 months.

"Mr. Chatterjee and Mr. Powelson certainly have their work cut out for them, but I'm confident they will work to quickly get this independent agency back on track and tackle the important work that has been deferred." Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.) said following the vote.

She announced that the committee will hold a hearing on Sept. 7 to consider two more FERC nominees, Kevin McIntyre and Richard Glick, whose selections the White House sent to the Senate for confirmation 2 days earlier. Murkowski said she intends to move their nominations forward as quickly as possible once the Senate returns from its August recess.

The Senate also approved the nomination of Dan Brouillette to be Deputy US Energy Secretary by 79 to 17 votes.

Officials from the American Petroleum Institute, American Gas Association, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, Natural Gas Supply Association, Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, US Chamber of Commerce, and Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance (EEIA) all welcomed the news of Powelson and Chatterjee's confirmations.

"There are billions of dollars of privately funded infrastructure projects currently tied up at FERC because the agency has lacked a quorum," said API Midstream Group Director Robin Rorick. "The agency now can move forward in approving the critical infrastructure that will create jobs across the country and help ensure that consumers can have access to clean-burning, affordable, reliable natural gas."

Susan Bergles, assistant general counsel at AGA, which represents local distribution companies, said on Aug. 4 her association "is pleased that the Senate has taken action, at long last, to confirm these nominations. We anxiously await both nominees being sworn in soon so that, with a quorum restored, FERC can get back to the important work which has been pending since February."

Upcoming hearing welcomed

INGAA Pres. Donald F. Santa also noted that FERC now can get back to work thoroughly reviewing many energy transportation projects that have been sidelined since Feb. 1. "We appreciate the Trump administration formally nominating Republican Kevin McIntyre-designated as chairman-and Democrat Richard Glick and are encouraged to see that the Energy and Natural Resources Committee has already scheduled a hearing for the two nominees in September," he added on Aug. 3.

NGSA Pres. Dena Wiggins said that Powelson and Chatterjee bring to FERC "a wealth of experience in different regulatory aspects of the energy industry" and allow FERC to review numerous projects that have been proposed after the 6-month delay.

LNG export project developers also welcomed the two nominees' confirmations, CLNG Executive Director Charlie Riedl said. "Returning FERC to full strength will allow LNG developers to move forward with confidence that the required permits and permissions to build projects will be considered quickly and efficiently," he observed.

EEIA, which represents more than 1 million workers at 120,000 companies in 60 industries along the shale energy supply chain, led a letter in July signed by 25 trade associations and labor unions, initiated numerous personal contacts with senators, and unleashed more than 600 individual letters to senators urging action, according to its president, Toby Mack.

"We're pleased to have played a leading role to get these important officials confirmed so we can get moving again on job creation and building the modern energy infrastructure our country so desperately needs," he said on Aug. 3.

About the Author

Nick Snow

NICK SNOW covered oil and gas in Washington for more than 30 years. He worked in several capacities for The Oil Daily and was founding editor of Petroleum Finance Week before joining OGJ as its Washington correspondent in September 2005 and becoming its full-time Washington editor in October 2007. He retired from OGJ in January 2020.