August 2, 2021

Volume XI, Number 214


July 30, 2021

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Trump Nominates Clements, Christie to FERC

Late yesterday, the White House announced that President Trump intended to nominate Mark C. Christie and Allison Clements to be FERC Commissioners. Christie would assume the seat currently occupied by Commissioner Bernard McNamee, whose term expired June 30, 2020, but who is continuing as commissioner until the earlier of when his replacement is confirmed and sworn in or the end of the current congressional session, as permitted by law. Clements would fill a seat left vacant in August 2019 with the departure of former Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur. If the Senate confirms Christie and Clements, FERC would have five Commissioners for the first time since LaFleur left the Commission in August 2019.

While Chairman Chatterjee’s term does not expire until June 30, 2021, he has made public statements indicating an interest in a political career, and he may leave the Commission before his term expires, particularly if there is a change in the White House in 2021. With Commissioner McNamee leaving the Commission, confirming the nominees also would help ensure a quorum (which requires at least three sitting commissioners).

Christie is one of the nation’s longest-serving utility regulators and is currently the Chair of the Virginia State Corporation Commission, where he has been a Commissioner since 2004. He also served as the President of the Organization of PJM States and led litigation efforts by the organization to protect the independence of the PJM market monitor. One Democratic former state legislator referred to him yesterday as a “little ‘c’ conservative.”

Clements is a longtime renewable energy advocate who recently served as the director of the energy markets program at the Energy Foundation and currently operates Goodgrid, an energy policy, and strategy consulting firm. Before starting Goodgrid, she worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council for a decade. While there, she helped lead its Sustainable FERC Project, which seeks to expand the deployment of clean energy resources and to reduce and eventually eliminate carbon emissions from U.S. power generation.

Neither Christie nor Clements are likely to be sworn in as FERC commissioners for several months. First, the White House must officially transmit the nominations to the Senate. Thereafter, their nominations will be referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which will hold hearings and ultimately would need to vote to report the nominee to the full Senate – according to news reports this morning, Senate ENR has not yet received the paperwork for the two nominees. The Senate then would need to confirm their nominations in a full floor vote, and they would thereafter be sworn in as Commissioners. During the Trump administration, this process generally has taken 3-4 months from the time the President announces his intent to nominate until the Senate votes to confirm. You may recall that there was controversy on Capitol Hill when Commissioner Danly was nominated and confirmed, in part because he was not paired with a Democratic nominee, as has been the more common practice. Concerns about Danly’s experience in the energy space also were raised during his confirmation process, and it is not clear what role those concerns may play for Christie and Clements. However, it is also not yet clear what effect the upcoming presidential election may have on these nominees’ confirmation.

Copyright 2021 K & L GatesNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 210

About this Author

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...

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...

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...