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 BidenCarville advises Democrats to 'quit being a whiny party' Wendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Sullivan: 'It's too soon to tell' if Texas synagogue hostage situation part of broader extremist threat 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 & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program Biden nominates DC regulator to federal energy commission Former GOP energy regulator regrets partisan past 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 McConnell​​Democrats make voting rights push ahead of Senate consideration Hogan won't say if he will file to run for Senate by Feb. 22 deadline Voting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities 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.