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Energy industry groups align to urge action from Trump on FERC vacancies


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Energy industry groups align to urge action from Trump on FERC vacancies

Groups from across the energy industry have banded together in urging President Donald Trump to move quickly to appoint a new commissioner at FERC, as the resignation of Norman Bay, effective Feb. 3, will leave the commission without a quorum.

The American Gas Association, American Petroleum Institute, American Public Power Association, National Hydropower Association and Nuclear Energy Institute were among 14 groups signing a Feb. 2 letter sent to Trump. The industry groups are concerned that FERC will be unable to make important energy infrastructure decisions on issues including pipeline and hydropower applications, pending mergers, petitions and rate proceedings.

"The absence of a quorum will leave the agency unable to tackle much of its important work promoting energy infrastructure for the benefit of U.S. energy consumers," the groups wrote.

Bay announced his intention to step down from the agency on Jan. 26, just hours after the commission announced that Cheryl LaFleur would replace him as chairman. Bay's last day at FERC is Feb. 3. The five-member commission was already short two members and must have three sitting members to vote on major orders.

In the wake of Bay's resignation, there has been growing concern across the energy industry that certain projects will be stalled due to the lack of a quorum. Some work, however, including the issuance of letters and delegated orders, can still be completed by staff at the agency.

"Such delays and inaction could have profound negative impacts for the nation's electric, natural gas, and oil customers given the need for strong national energy infrastructure and enhanced market access and opportunities," the industry groups warned.

The groups urged Trump to fill the open three seats on the commission as soon as possible. Several of these groups have already reached out to Trump to urge swift action to fill the commission, but they have now aligned with colleagues representing the power, nuclear and oil industries.

Industry insiders have named Neil Chatterjee, a former aide to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as a possible successor for Bay. Many have said that Chatterjee is liked by Republicans and Democrats, and could move through the confirmation process swiftly despite a Congress that is busy confirming members of Trump's new cabinet.