Colette Honorable is leaving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission tomorrow, at the end of her term. While some Commissioners stay on beyond their five-year term until his or her position is filled, that is not the case here. Based on my scan of her Twitter feed (and she’s quite the Tweeter!) Commissioner Honorable hasn’t announced plans for the future. That leaves the FERC with one sitting Commissioner and a significant backlog of cases to handle. Yesterday, Senator Lisa Murkowski, chairwoman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, issued a statement, which in relevant part said:
“Commissioner Honorable has served with distinction. While I did not agree with her on every issue, she has been an outstanding regulator, and I wish her and her family well. Although I understand and respect Commissioner Honorable’s decision to step down this week, her departure again underscores the urgent need to re-establish a quorum at FERC.
FERC’s work is increasingly important. Getting the agency back to the normal course of business remains a top priority for me. I will continue to push for a confirmation vote for Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson, who were favorably reported by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee earlier this month on a strong bipartisan basis. Even with Commissioner Honorable’s departure, FERC will be able to get back to work on the day these qualified nominees are confirmed. I hope my colleagues among the Senate minority will join us in enabling a quick vote for Mr. Chatterjee and Mr. Powelson.”
So, hopefully, help is on the way soon. Powelson and Chatterjee have been sitting on the Senate’s Executive Calendar for approving nominees (along with 26 other nominees dating back to mid-May). Senate confirmation of these two Republicans is not expected to be contentious.
After Commissioner Honorable announced her departure, Senate Democrats began to float the name of Richard Glick as her replacement. Mr. Glick, serves as Democratic General Counsel of the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee. So, like Chatterjee, he is a known commodity on the Hill. Beyond his work on the Hill, Mr. Glick’s resume includes a long stint with Iberdrola Resources, as a policy adviser to Energy Secretary Bill Richardson under the Clinton administration, and as a legislative director and chief counsel to Senator Dale Bumpers. Given these bona fides, Mr. Glick should be able to navigate a position at FERC quite well.
Reports on AP News this morning suggest that President Trump is going to appoint Mr. Glick in the near future. No official news yet, and there would certainly be a further waiting period until hearings are scheduled or confirmation (recognizing that the Senate has very few work days in session between now and Labor Day).
Assuming all the above happens, that still leaves the fifth seat to be filled, which would be more important now given that a Commission of LaFleur, Glick, Powelson and Chatterjee would be a 2 Democrat/2 Republican Commission. The final appointee could be the one that is going to be the new permanent Chairman. I personally would not be surprised if Mr. Glick was paired up with the final appointee for confirmation hearings.