The US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 20-3 to refer the nominations of Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson as US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission members to the full Senate for final approval. The June 6 action brought restoration of a quorum at FERC one step closer, which effectively would make the commission fully functional again.
Officials from the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, Natural Gas Supply Association, and the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas each welcomed the news.
“We estimate that about $14 billion in private capital—ready to be deployed on energy infrastructure projects—is being held on the sidelines while FERC lacks a quorum and cannot act on major projects,” said INGAA Pres. Donald F. Santa.
“The president and many members of Congress have stressed the economic importance of developing infrastructure across America. Natural gas pipelines are a form of infrastructure built with private capital rather than government funds. To build this infrastructure, we need a functioning FERC to act on pending applications to construct interstate gas pipelines,” Santa explained.
NGSA Pres. Dena E. Wiggins said, “With billions of dollars of investment and thousands of job opportunities sidelined, it is critical to have a full complement of FERC commissioners.”
Charlie Riedl, the Center for LNG’s executive director, said “We look forward to a restored quorum at FERC, an essential part of the LNG process, and hope to see their floor vote very soon.”
The committee also forwarded the nominations of David Bernhardt, to be Deputy US Secretary of the Interior, and Dan Brouillette, to be Deputy US Secretary of Energy, to the full Senate for final approval. The votes were 14-9 for Bernhardt and 17-6 from Brouillette.
Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas.) said following the votes that Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke and Energy Sec. Rick Perry need their deputies in place to help them set strategic direction and run their departments day-to-day.
“I recognize that calendar space is limited, but hope that we will be able to confirm all four of these nominees during this work period,” Murkowski said.
FERC lost its quorum on Feb. 3 when Norman Bay, who joined the federal energy transportation agency as a commissioner on Aug. 4, 2014, and became its chairman on Apr. 15, 2015, left following his dismissal as chairman soon after President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
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