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U.S. Senate Approves Trump’s FERC Nominees

The Senate has approved two candidates for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission nominated by President Donald Trump, which would mean FERC will be Republican-dominated until June, according to Reuters.

The approved commissioners are Republican Mark Christie, formerly chairman of the Virginia State Corporation Commission, and Democrat Allison Clements, founder and president of energy policy and strategy consulting firm Goodgrid LLC.

Trump nominated Christie and Clements earlier this year, in response to growing pressure from the Democratic Party to maintain the bipartisan makeup of the FERC after two years of it operating with three Republican members and one Democrat member. The five-member body is not supposed to have any more than three same-party members, and while this has been maintained, it has only had four members instead of three.

An earlier nomination made by Trump to fill the position of late FERC chairman Kevin McIntyre was returned to the White House after the Senate failed to confirm or reject it. The newest member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, James Danly, was only confirmed this March. This happened despite Democrats' insistence that Danly's confirmation be combined with a confirmation for Clements, their preferred candidate.

According to Reuters, when president-elect Joe Biden is sworn in next month, he could appoint a Democratic chairman of the commission, but even so, the FERC would remain Republican-dominated for a while.

Originally, the dominance could end in June next year, when Commissioner Neil Chatterjee's term was supposed to end. Yet last month, President Trump surprisingly removed Chatterjee from FERC to make room for Danly.

Chatterjee's departure might have been hastened by a policy statement that the 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.

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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