President Donald Trump surprised many this week with the removal of Neil Chatterjee from the post of chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Chatterjee was replaced by the other Republican sitting member of the commission, James Danly.
Chatterjee's term was set to expire in June 2021, Axios reported, noting the chairman of FERC had said he intended to remain at his post until then. However, his departure might have been hastened by a policy statement that FERC issued in October.
The statement concerns carbon pricing policies and encourages regional power market operators to develop some as one way of tackling climate change.
"As states actively seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions within their regions, carbon pricing has emerged as an important, market-based tool that has wide support from across sectors," Chatterjee said at the time.
"The Commission is not an environmental regulator, but we may be called upon to review proposals that incorporate a state-determined state carbon price into these regional markets. These rules could improve the efficiency and transparency of the organized wholesale markets by providing a market-based method to reduce GHG emissions."
Following the news about his rather abrupt and unceremonious ousting, Chatterjee told the Washington Examiner that "I have obviously been out there promoting a conservative market-based approach to carbon mitigation and sending signals the commission is open to considering a carbon price, and perhaps that led to this," Chatterjee said. "Quite frankly, if in fact this was retribution for my independence, I am quite proud of that."
Commenting on the dismissal, the new chairman of FERC, James Danly, said, "Neil has truly left his mark on FERC and the energy sector by brokering a significant agreement allowing us to move forward with liquefied natural gas terminals, which helped secure our American energy independence.
If Joe Biden wins the presidential vote, however, Danly may not have long as chairman of the commission, Axios notes, as the Democratic candidate will probably appoint a Democratic chairperson.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com