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Senate approves two energy regulators, completing panel

Senate approves two energy regulators, completing panel
© Greg Nash

Two nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) were confirmed to the panel by voice votes on Monday. 

Democrat Allison Clements and Republican Mark Christie will serve on the panel, which regulates natural gas and hydropower projects and the interstate transmission of natural gas, oil and electricity. 

Their confirmation brings FERC, which isn’t supposed to have more than three members belonging to any one party, up to its full capacity. Previously, the commission had been operating with fewer than the standard five commissioners. 

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Christie is a longtime utility regulator, serving as chairman of the Virginia State Corporation Commission. He’s also held leadership roles in organizations of utility regulators. 

Clements has served as the founder and president of Goodgrid, LLC, an energy policy and strategy consulting firm. She also worked for a decade at the Natural Resources Defense Council and worked for two years as the director of the energy markets program at Energy Foundation, which advocates for energy efficiency and renewable energy.  

Their nominations were advanced to the full Senate, though it had not been clear whether they would reach confirmation by the end of the session. 

Despite her background in clean energy, Clements said during a September confirmation hearing that it wouldn’t be her job to pick one source of energy over another. 

“The commission’s role is not to pick winners and losers when it comes to fuel choices,” she said, adding that in pipeline cases she would “commit to going into each of those proceedings with an open mind and reviewing the specific facts.”

Now, FERC has three Republicans and two Democrats. However, the chair of the commission is selected by the president, so President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenDefense lawyers for alleged Capitol rioters to get tours of U.S. Capitol Sasse to introduce legislation giving new hires signing bonuses after negative jobs report Three questions about Biden's conservation goals MORE may decide to pick Clements or fellow Democrat Richard Glick to lead the regulatory body. 

Trump recently made headlines when he switched leadership from Republican Neil ChatterjeeNeil ChatterjeeOVERNIGHT ENERGY: White House rescinds Trump proposal to restrict greenhouse gas consideration | Texas governor limits shipping natural gas out-of-state amid power shortages | Lawmakers clash over gun prohibition in Natural Resources committee room Almost 5 million without power as winter storm stresses grid in Texas, 13 other states Senate approves two energy regulators, completing panel MORE to current chairman James Danly, also a Republican. News outlets reported that Chatterjee, a former energy aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAssaults on Roe v Wade increasing Trump spokesman says defeating Cheney a top priority Biden to meet with GOP senators amid infrastructure push MORE (R-Ky.), may have been demoted due to his openness to putting a price on carbon emissions or not wanting to follow a White House directive limiting diversity training.