Trump to nominate two energy regulators

Trump to nominate two energy regulators
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President Trump said Monday that he’s nominating two Republicans to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

If confirmed, Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson would bring FERC’s size to three commissioners, giving the powerful body a quorum for the first time in three months.

FERC is charged with approving energy projects like oil and natural gas pipelines, gas export facilities and larger electric transmission lines, along with wholesale electricity rates.

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But the commission has been unable to make most top decisions since February, when former Chairman Norman Bay resigned before Trump could nominate a replacement, leaving only two commissioners. At full operation, FERC has five commissioners.

The dwindling ranks at FERC have angered the energy industry, their opponents and lawmakers in both parties, since the decisionmaking process has largely been stalled.

Chatterjee currently serves as the top energy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellPrice: 'No guarantees' people won't fall through cracks of healthcare bill Senate Republicans reluctant to rush vote on healthcare bill GOP senator defends funding Planned Parenthood MORE (R-Ky.), where he helps the Republican coordinate and oversee energy legislation, highway bills and more. 

He previously worked for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, then-House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (Ohio) and the House Ways and Means Committee.

Powelson has sat on the Public Utility Commission of Pennsylvania since 2008 and was its chairman from 2011 to 2015 under then-Gov. Tom Corbett (R). He also currently serves as president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

Powelson previously led the Chester County, Pa., Chamber of Business and Industry.

The nominees must be confirmed by the Senate before they can serve. Trump can appoint any confirmed member to be the chairman without separate Senate approval.

FERC’s current chairwoman is Cheryl LaFleur. The term of Colette Honorable, the only other commissioner, ends in June, and she will not seek another term, but she could stay on until her replacement is named if she wishes.

FERC can only have a maximum of three members from a particular political party, so at least two Democrats need to be nominated for a five-member commission.