FERC Commissioner LaFleur won’t seek 3rd term

Source: Jeremy Dillon, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, February 1, 2019

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Cheryl LaFleur will not seek another term on the commission after her current one expires at the end of June, she announced on Twitter this morning.

LaFleur’s departure will add another vacancy on the commission for the Senate to fill this year, but it may provide an opportunity to pair a Republican and Democrat nominee together and ease confirmation for both picks.

“While this is not the outcome I had hoped for, I feel very lucky to have served on FERC for more than eight years (and counting),” she wrote on Twitter. “I plan to stay at FERC at least through the end of my term on June 30, and probably longer, depending on my future plans and the possible appointment of a successor.”

In addition to LaFleur’s upcoming vacancy, FERC is also down a commissioner after the death of former Chairman Kevin McIntyre at the beginning of this year.

The White House has not yet named a nominee for that position.

For LaFleur, the effort to secure a third term appeared to be uphill. The Trump administration signaled it would not support her reappointment, according to several sources. Also, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was ambivalent at best, a source said, and late last year asked then-Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) for a list of alternatives.

LaFleur leaves a legacy at FERC that includes a greater focus of the impact greenhouse gas emissions play in the decisionmaking of the commission. The impacts of that legacy are still playing out, as federal courts direct the commission to do a better job considering emissions in its permitting for pipelines and liquefied natural gas export facilities, among other areas.

A former executive vice president and acting CEO of National Grid USA, LaFleur’s upcoming exit also represents a loss of institutional knowledge and wherewithal that others on the commission cannot match.

She was first appointed by President Obama in 2010 and subsequently renominated in 2014, representing nearly a decade in service atop FERC. During that time, she served in the majority and minority as well as chairwoman and acting chairwoman.

LaFleur also represents the lone commissioner on the current FERC panel with utility experience. The three other commissioners all have largely come from political backgrounds.

“It has been a high honor to serve at the Commission, and I love working here,” LaFleur said on Twitter. “I have many people to thank for the opportunities I’ve had, and will certainly have more to say as I get closer to actually leaving.”

Reporter Rod Kuckro contributed.