Industry and clean energy groups breathe a sigh of relief as the Senate approves energy regulations

This week, the U.S. Senate confirmed three President Joe Biden nominees to the nation’s top energy regulatory panel, which was at risk of losing quorum.

The vote to confirm up-to-date members – two Democrats and a Republican – to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was met with applause from representatives of industry, renewable energy and environmental groups, who said a full panel of commissioners is necessary for the body to could address the challenges posed by an aging electric grid, a rapidly changing generation mix and debates over natural gas infrastructure, among other pressing energy issues.

“We are pleased that FERC will be restored to its full strength, which will help provide the regulatory certainty and attention needed on key issues affecting our nation’s energy systems,” said Todd Snitchler, president and CEO of the Electric Power Supply Association, or EPSA, which represents the companies owning power plants in competitive electricity markets.

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“Having a full complement of five commissioners will enable FERC to continue the essential work needed to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for everyone across the country,” said Ted Kelly, director of clean energy at the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund.

FERC, which regulates the interstate transmission and wholesale sale of electricity and the interstate transmission of natural gas and crude oil, among other duties“rarely appears on radar screens,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “But his mission is essential. Every time you turn on a light, touch the thermostat or see new power lines being built, FERC rules, regulations (and) rules are at work.”

Leaving positions vacant, Schumer said, “could create significant backlogs and delays, potentially slowing down new projects that power homes and cities.”

The up-to-date commissioners are: David Rosner, Democrat and FERC energy industry analyst; West Virginia Solicitor General Lindsay See, a Republican who was driving the state’s successful legal fight against Environmental Protection Agency regulations on carbon dioxide emissions; and Judy Chang, Democrat, energy economist and former undersecretary for energy and climate solutions for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is also an adjunct professor and senior lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School.

They join Chairman Willie Phillps, a Democrat, and Commissioner Mark Christie, a Republican. Commissioner Allison Clements, Democrat, announced earlier this year will not run for a second term. By law, FERC consists of five members, no more than three of whom are from the same political party. They are appointed by the president with the “advice and consent of the Senate” for staggered five-year terms.

While the committee will maintain a 3-2 Democratic majority, at least one environmental group is critical of Rosner’s selection.

Friends of the Earth called Rosner’s ties to fossil fuels “disqualifying” AND cursed his cooperation with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, headed by the powerful and pro-coal Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who in May changed registration from Democrat to Independence. Manchin recommended Rosner, who was also previously a senior policy adviser at the U.S. Department of Energy and deputy director of the Biptial Policy Center’s energy project, for the committee position last year. This was reported by E&E News Politico. The Affiliated with Koch Industries The American Energy Alliance also criticized Chang’s previous opposition to up-to-date gas pipelines. But at least for the Senate, the relatively polished confirmation process seemed to show that having a full slate of commissioners was better than picking fights over individual candidates.

“We all know that having a fully staffed FERC will make a big difference in what we do in this country,” Manchin told his colleagues Tuesday, adding that each nominee confirmed his commission with “extremely strong” bipartisan support. .

“Each of the nominees has demonstrated deep experience in energy and regulatory issues, a commitment to upholding the law and working within the authority Congress has provided to FERC, and a recognition that all of our nation’s sources play an important role in providing affordable, reliable energy to communities of families and companies across the country.”

Senator John Barrasso, Republican from Wyoming and ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, recorded that FERC went seven months without a quorum during the Obama administration, halting many projects “that help keep the lights on, heat our homes and help our allies abroad.”

“While I may not always agree with all nominees on all issues, they are all qualified,” he said.

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