President Trump announced that he will nominate Richard Glick to serve as a commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Glick currently serves as the General Counsel for the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and is a Democrat. Glick also previously worked as a lobbyist in the energy industry.
The Commission has lacked a quorum of three members for the first time in its history and for nearly five months since then Chairman Norman Bay resigned earlier this year. In May, Trump nominated Robert Powelson and Neil Chatterjee to the Commission. Those nominations have stalled in the Senate, despite approval by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The Commission will be down to a single Commissioner as of the end June, until Congress approves new appointments. Acting Chair Cheryl LaFleur will be the sole remaining Commissioner once Colette Honorable steps down at the end of her term. Many expected Honorable to remain on for transition purposes but she announced with little advance notice that June 30 would be her last day.
Without a quorum (at least three Commissioners), the Commission cannot issue major orders including Natural Gas Act Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity. The Commission normally includes five members with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, while the Chairman shares the same party as the president. It must have at least three Commissioners to perform certain functions. The Commission has delegated additional authorities to FERC staff in the absence of a quorum and it has finalized environmental reviews for certain natural gas pipeline projects such as the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
That said, FERC has many billions of dollars of project applications pending before it for numerous pipeline projects across the country which have stalled and been sidelined in the absence of a quorum. It remains uncertain how long it will take the Senate to confirm these nominations, but once the President’s nominees are confirmed, there should be a flurry of activity by FERC to process pending applications and act on major projects. This would be a welcome change for the industry.