Democrats urge Trump to restore FERC quorum with bipartisan nominations

Published on March 14, 2017 by Daily Energy Insider Reports

Maria Cantwell

Sixteen democratic senators recently sent a letter to President Trump, requesting that he appoint both Democratic and Republican commissioners to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to re-establish a quorum.

By law, no more than three FERC commissioners may be from the same political party. Traditionally, Republican and Democratic presidents have nominated commissioners recommended by the Senate leader of the party not holding the office of the president. FERC also has a tradition of unanimous votes through bipartisanship. In 2016, fewer than two percent of the orders issued included a dissenting opinion.

“We hope that your nominees will be prepared to continue this tradition, and we intend to review them through that lens during the confirmation process,” the letter, signed by Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell
(D-WA) and 15 other Democrats, said.

FERC lost its quorum on Feb. 3 when Commissioner Norman Bay resigned. There are currently three open seats on the commission with the fourth seat, held by Commissioner Colette Honorable, expiring in June. The commission must have a quorum of three filled seats before it can issue decisions.

“We write to request that you restore the quorum by nominating individuals that will honor the commission’s statutory missions to ensure that jurisdictional rates are just and reasonable, to prohibit market manipulation, to protect electric grid reliability, to oversee energy infrastructure development in a balanced manner and to provide for the licensing and safe operation of many of our nation’s hydroelectric dams,” the letter said.

The letter is signed by Cantwell and U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Joe Manchin III (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).