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Senate votes to confirm Trump's remaining FERC nominees

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Senate votes to confirm Trump's remaining FERC nominees

The U.S. Senate voted Nov. 2 to confirm President Donald Trump's final two nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, giving the agency a full five members.

The Senate approved Kevin McIntyre and Richard Glick's nominations to the commission. Once they are sworn in, McIntyre and Glick will join Trump's two other FERC picks, Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson, and Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, who is an Obama administration appointee. Trump also tapped McIntyre to lead FERC, with Chatterjee temporarily serving as chairman until McIntyre is sworn in.

The freshly staffed FERC has a busy and significant agenda for the rest of 2017. In late September, the U.S. Department of Energy asked FERC to create a rule directing certain regional grid operators to ensure that coal, nuclear and other plants with at least 90 days of on-site fuel supply can fully recover their costs in wholesale power markets. The rule, if implemented as the DOE requested, would cause sweeping changes for organized markets and has sparked an outcry from natural gas and renewable energy proponents as well as others, who argue that the move is anti-competitive.

In addition to that rulemaking, FERC still is whittling down a backlog of work that built up while the commission lacked a quorum for roughly six months after former Chairman Norman Bay left the agency in early February and before Chatterjee and Powelson were confirmed in early August.

In addition to approving the FERC nominations, the Senate on Nov. 2 voted to confirm Steven Winberg as assistant secretary of energy for fossil energy, Mark Menezes as under secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy and Paul Dabbar as under secretary for science at the DOE.

The last time FERC had a full complement of five commissioners was in October 2015, when the agency was manned by Bay, LaFleur, Philip Moeller, Tony Clark and Colette Honorable. Moeller left at the end of that month, followed by Clark in September 2016 and Bay and Honorable in February and June, respectively.