Energy commission swears in new members, regains quorum

Energy commission swears in new members, regains quorum
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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has its first quorum in six months after swearing in two newly confirmed commissioners this week.

Robert Powelson, a former Pennsylvania utilities commissioner, was sworn in as FERC’s third member on Thursday morning. Neil Chatterjee, a policy aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.), officially joined the commission on Tuesday.

President Trump on Thursday named Chatterjee the acting chairman of the commission. He and Powelson join Cheryl LaFleur as FERC commissioners.

The Senate confirmed Powelson and Chatterjee by unanimous consent last week before leaving for a monthlong recess. The confirmations were welcomed by the energy industry, which has seen infrastructure projects languish while the commission has been without a three-member quorum.

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FERC makes permitting decisions on energy projects such as natural gas pipelines and export terminals. Due to retirements, FERC last had a quorum in February, and it hasn’t held a meeting since President Trump took office.

This was the first time FERC has been without a quorum in its 40-year history. The Electric Reliability Coordinating Council estimates that the lack of a quorum held up projects worth $50 billion in private capital.

The Senate has yet to act on two other Trump nominees to FERC: Democratic Senate aide Richard Glick and energy lawyer Kevin McIntyre, whom Trump has picked to be the commission's full-time chair.

—Updated at 1:55 p.m.