Energy & Environment

Senate confirms energy regulator, completing panel

Greg Nash

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed by a voice vote President Biden’s pick to fill an open seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) — a body that regulates pipelines, electricity markets and other forms of interstate energy transmission. 

The chamber voted to confirm Willie Phillips Jr. to the position, alongside a slate of other nominees. 

Phillips has served as a utility regulator Washington, D.C. According to a White House announcement on his nomination, he has more than 20 years of legal expertise and has worked both as a regulator and in private practice. 

Typically, voice votes signify that nominees are not controversial.

However, Phillips’s nomination did get some scrutiny from environmental activists who have raised concerns about whether he’s too supportive of utilities. 

Testifying before Congress, Phillips said he would try to seek  “balance” between reliability, affordability and sustainability. 

“I believe that climate change is real. I believe that we have a moral and ethical obligation to address it,” he said, adding, “We have to have balance in our approach.”

Phillips’s nomination gives FERC a full complement of five commissioners and gives Democrats a 3-2 majority on the panel. The commission can’t have more than three regulators belonging to the same political party. 

He’ll serve for nearly five years for a term that expires June 30, 2026. 

Tags Joe Biden

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