Senate confirms Trump FERC picks

Source: By Jeremy Dillon, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, December 1, 2020

The Senate moved quickly last night to confirm Allison Clements and Mark Christie as the newest members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The bipartisan duo, approved by voice vote, will take the commission to its full complement of five members for the first time in nearly two years.

The Senate’s action also ensures a Republican 3-2 majority at FERC until at least the end of June, a move that could potentially hamstring the incoming Biden administration’s clean energy ambitions during its first six months.

“Congratulations to Allison Clements & Mark Christie on their confirmation votes tonight! I look forward to working with them & am excited we are finally back to a full 5-member FERC!” Democratic Commissioner Richard Glick said on Twitter following the vote.

For Clements and Christie, the confirmation marks the end of a five-month nomination process that has caught much of the FERC world off guard.

The White House nominated the two FERC picks in July — an announcement that caught many observers by surprise (E&E Daily, July 28).

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee moved them out of committee on voice votes two weeks ago (Greenwire, Nov. 18).

Such a quick turnaround for FERC nominees shows how important the independent regulatory panel has become on Capitol Hill.

“In a political climate that is often paralyzed by partisanship, a fully seated, bipartisan FERC is more essential than ever. I look forward to working with them both to advance an energy innovation agenda,” ENR ranking member Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said in a statement.

Clements has been in the mix to join the commission for nearly two years. She headed the clean energy program at the Energy Foundation and worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council on FERC-related issues.

Clements had been rumored to be the Democratic pick for former Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur’s position since February of last year, but the Trump administration dragged its feet in selecting her.

That delay prompted partisan bickering that culminated in reported threats from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to block ENR legislative work until the White House rectified the delay (E&E News PM, Sept. 20, 2019).

Christie has had a shorter wait. He will join FERC from the Virginia State Corporation Commission, where he has served for the past 16 years. The Republican has a reputation for being an outspoken believer in states’ rights in energy policy.

Christie emerged as a nominee at the behest of former GOP Commissioner Bernard McNamee. Christie will serve out the term until June 2025.