Senate approves Danly as new FERC commissioner

Source: By Jeremy Dillon, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 12, 2020

The Senate voted this morning, 52-40, to confirm the nomination of James Danly to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The vote paves the way for Danly, currently serving as FERC’s general counsel, to join the commission with a term that expires June 30, 2023, although he first needs to be sworn in.

“This is great news for FERC and for the country,” FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said in a statement. “I have appreciated getting to know and work with James as my General Counsel, where he’s already proven to be an invaluable asset to the Commission.”

Democratic Commissioner Richard Glick tweeted after the vote, “Congratulations to James Danly. I look forward to working with him in this new capacity here @FERC.”

Every Republican in attendance voted for Danly, along with three Democrats: Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Doug Jones of Alabama.

All other Democrats in attendance opposed him. One of those not in attendance, Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, said in a statement she would not have backed Danly.

Cantwell and her office have entered quarantine procedures after one of her staffers tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

“I was unable to be present for today’s votes, but if I had been able to vote I would have voted against the confirmation of James Danly as FERC Commissioner,” Cantwell said in a statement. “We saw during the West Coast energy crisis how essential it is that the Commission is balanced and independent and ensures just and reasonable rates at all times.”

The confirmation vote wrapped one of the more contentious FERC nomination processes, which have become more political with the commission getting increased scrutiny for its energy infrastructure and climate change responsibilities.

This go-round, the debate centered more on the lack of a Democratic nominee to pair with the Republican Danly — a break in nomination protocol, Democratic lawmakers alleged.

Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) called such opposition “troubling.”

“Despite Mr. Danly’s impressive qualification and experience, I’m disappointed that some of my colleagues will oppose his nomination simply because he isn’t nominated alongside a Democratic candidate,” she said before the vote.