Senate confirms two energy commission nominees, restoring quorum

Senate confirms two energy commission nominees, restoring quorum
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The Senate voted Thursday evening to confirm two of President Trump's nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), paving the way for the commission to have its first quorum in six months.

Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson were confirmed by unanimous consent and are slated to join the five-member board, which has seen its action paused since February following a pair of retirements.

FERC is responsible for permitting decisions on energy projects like natural gas pipelines and export terminals. The lack of a quorum has left FERC unable to move such projects forward, inaction that has led to frustration in the energy, manufacturing and business communities.

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Neither Chatterjee nor Powelson was considered a controversial pick. Chatterjee is an energy aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE (R-Ky.), and Powelson is a Pennsylvania utilities regulator.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced both nominations in June on 20-3 votes. Democrats, though, had been hesitant to bring their nominations to the floor for confirmation votes until they were assured a Democratic nominee would receive a vote as well.

The White House filed paperwork for Democrat Richard Glick’s nomination on Wednesday. Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Collins skeptical of new ObamaCare repeal effort How Senate relationships could decide ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Alaska) announced Thursday she would hold a September hearing for Glick’s nomination and that of Kevin McIntrye, whom Trump has picked to be chairman of the commission.

Democrat Cheryl LaFleur is the only current member of FERC. Former Commissioner Colette Honorable and former Chairman Norman Bay left the commission earlier this year.