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Volume XI, Number 217


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Senate ENR Hearing Slated for FERC Nominees

On September 9, 2020, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee announced that it would hold a hearing this Wednesday, September 16, 2020, to consider the nominations by President Trump of Allison Clements and Mark C. Christie to serve as FERC Commissioners.

The Senate ENR Committee hearing is an important first step toward the confirmation of Clements and Christie.  After holding its hearing, the Committee will hold a vote on whether to forward the nominees to the full Senate.  At that point, the Senate would need to consider their nominations and vote to confirm their appointments.  Each would then would need to be sworn in as Commissioners. 

The timing of the process moving forward remains uncertain, however, and is complicated by a number of factors.  In addition to the upcoming election, there are a limited number of days on which the Senate will be in session through the end of 2020.  During that time, most expect that Congress will prioritize consideration of an additional COVID-19 relief package and an agreement to fund the operation of the federal government past September 30.  This could complicate efforts to secure Senate floor time for the confirmation votes.

Following Commissioner McNamee’s recent departure from the Commission, FERC is now operating with only three Commissioners, which is the minimum required for a quorum.  In this context, the recusal of any Commissioner would deprive FERC of a quorum and prevent its acting on that case, while the unexpected departure of any of the remaining three Commissioners would largely prevent FERC from acting.  This could be particularly relevant in cases on remand to the Commission where Commissioner Danly, formerly FERC’s General Counsel, signed appellate briefs and would be required to recuse himself.

Finally, should Clements and Christie be confirmed and sworn in, there are not expected to be any vacancies until June 30, 2021, when Chairman Chatterjee’s term expires (Chairman Chatterjee has indicated that he plans to remain on the Commission for his full term, but also has indicated political aspirations).  Therefore, even if Biden is elected, we expect a Republican majority on the Commission until at least mid-2021 if Clements and Christie are confirmed, and neither Chatterjee nor Danly leave the Commission before then.

Copyright 2021 K & L GatesNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 259

About this Author

Of Counsel

Kimberly Frank is counsel in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, and is a member of the power practice group. Kimberly represents clients in a broad array of electric utility regulatory matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and state regulatory agencies and in appeals of these agencies’ decisions.

Kimberly helps clients navigate the complex rules of the FERC-regulated regional wholesale markets. She helps them evaluate and advocate for rule changes in the energy, capacity, and ancillary services markets administered by the regional transmission organizations...

Sandra Safro, KL Gates Law Firm, Energy Attorney

Ms. Safro is a partner in the firm's Washington, D.C. office. She focuses her practice on regulatory, policy, and transactional issues related primarily to natural gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG), crude oil, and natural gas liquids (NGLs). Ms. Safro regularly advises clients on matters related to commodity and pipeline transportation issues, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) policies related to capacity release and in the negotiation of precedent agreements, negotiated rate agreements, asset management arrangements, transportation service...

David Wochner, KL Gates Law Firm, Public Policy Attorney
Practice Area Leader

Mr. Wochner has advised, represented and advocated on behalf of clients on natural gas, LNG and oil related matters, including natural gas and oil commodity and pipeline transportation issues, LNG imports and exports, and natural gas as a transportation fuel, before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Departments of Energy, Transportation and the Interior, EPA and on Capitol Hill. He served as lead Washington counsel on behalf of a major international drilling company in multiple Congressional and federal agency investigations and hearings related to the...

Patrick T. Metz Power Attorney K&L Gates Washington DC

Patrick Metz is an associate in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office and a member of the power practice group. Mr. Metz practices before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and state public utility commissions, focusing on complex regulatory matters associated with the generation, transmission, distribution, and storage of electric energy, as well as the transportation and distribution of natural gas. Mr. Metz has represented clients in ratemaking, complaint, merger, and rulemaking proceedings, including those related to RTO/ISO tariff compliance, cost allocation, PURPA, transmission...