Week ahead in energy: Senate panel to vote on Trump nominees | Cohn to meet foreign climate officials

Week ahead in energy: Senate panel to vote on Trump nominees | Cohn to meet foreign climate officials
© Greg Nash

The Senate will begin moving five Trump administration energy and environment nominees in the coming week, including two potential members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will meet on Tuesday to vote on the slate. The list includes Richard Glick, a Democrat who Trump has named to FERC, and Kevin McIntyre, Trump's pick to lead the commission.

When Trump took office -- and as FERC was due to drop to a sole member because of retirements and resignations -- Senate Democrats were hesitant to move forward on confirming his first two GOP nominees until he put forward a Democrat to sit on the board as well.


Trump nominated Glick, a senior aide to Senate Energy Committee Democrats, in June, clearing the way for the Senate to confirm two nominees and restore FERC's quorum in August.

In their confirmation hearing earlier this month, much of the questioning revolved around ways to support "baseload" power sources like coal and nuclear. McIntyre and Glick both said they would look at ways to support baseload, but they said FERC shouldn't prioritize one power source over the others.

Nominees for the Interior and Energy Departments are also on the agenda, including: Joseph Balash, to be assistant secretary of the Interior for land and minerals management; Ryan Nelson to be the agency's solicitor; and David Jonas to be general counsel of the Department of Energy.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is also set to consider several Trump nominees.

On Wednesday, the committee will hear testimony from Michael Dourson, Trump's pick to be the assistant Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominee for toxic substances, Matthew Leopard to be the agency's general counsel, David Ross to head its water office and William Wehrum to lead the air office.   

Senators will also hear from Jeffrey Baran on his nomination for a new term at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where he is already a commissioner.

Democrats are likely to be most critical of Dourson and Wherum. Dourson has worked in the chemical industry for two decades and critics say he's too close to producers.

Wehrum would be charged with leading Trump's efforts to deregulate industries that pollute the air. He led the air office under former President George W. Bush on an interim basis, but Senate Democrats blocked Bush's effort to install him full-time.  

The Senate has only confirmed one of Trump's EPA nominees this year: Administrator Scott Pruitt in February. Two Democrats this week threatened to delay consideration of another nominee -- Susan Bodine to be the agency's enforcement chief -- because of "several concerns" they have over her current position in the agency.

Also next week, Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn will meet with foreign allies on climate change during the United Nations general assembly in New York.

Cohn was one of the biggest supporters of the Paris climate deal within the Trump administration, though his meetings next week come after Trump said he would pull the U.S. out of the deal.

Many foreign leaders have rejected Trump's call to renegotiate the accord with more favorable terms to the U.S.


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