White House huddles with Dem FERC pick

Source: By Jeremy Dillon, Rod Kuckro and Hannah Northey, E&E News reporters • Posted: Wednesday, January 8, 2020

White House officials have now met twice with Allison Clements — the Democrats’ choice to fill a vacancy at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — fueling speculation that a pairing of FERC nominees could be in the works.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told reporters this week that Clements met with an administration official shortly before Christmas. E&E News separately confirmed the meeting, the second for Clements, who was fully vetted in the spring.

“I understood that people from the administration have at least met and talked to Clements, and I haven’t heard anything back yet about how they felt, whether it was favorable or not,” said Manchin, the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“I heard they had a good meeting and it went well because she is well-qualified and well-experienced, and she would be a great asset for the FERC,” Manchin said.

Multiple sources yesterday suggested the meeting may indicate the White House is interested in pairing Clements with FERC General Counsel James Danly, who was not included in a batch of nominees the White House sent to the Senate this week. Danly is the administration’s pick for the Republican vacancy at FERC.

If nominated and confirmed, Clements would join Richard Glick, the only other Democrat serving on the five-member commission.

Clements is currently an energy lawyer who heads the clean energy market program at the Energy Foundation. She previously worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council on FERC-related issues.

Manchin has remained a vocal advocate for pairing the Danly and Clements nominations at the same time to ease the path for both to achieve confirmation through the Senate.

The White House put forward Danly separately late last year despite outrage from Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), about the lack of a Democratic nomination at the same time.

Schumer reportedly threatened to block any legislation stemming from the ENR Committee if it moved the Danly nomination without waiting for the second Democratic nominee (E&E News PM, Sept. 20, 2019).

ENR Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) ultimately held a confirmation hearing and a committee vote for Danly last year, although his nomination did not gain enough traction to pass the full Senate (E&E Daily, Oct. 18, 2019).

As a result, the White House needs to renominate him, and the ENR Committee would need to revote to advance his nomination out of committee.