U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Finally Whole, FERC Gets to Work on American Infrastructure

By Heath Knakmuhs

For the first time in two long years, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has reached its full, five-member complement following the swearing in of the new FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre this month.

Former Chairman Norman Bay resigned from his post in late January when President Trump tapped standing Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, a holdover from the Obama administration, to serve as acting chair. This left the agency with only two of five members – and the inability to move any projects forward.

A few months later the FERC of two became a solo shop when Commissioner Honorable stepped down from her position – choosing to not seek reappointment – during the June 2017 conclusion of her term.  Not until August 8 did FERC see the addition of a Commissioner, with Neil Chatterjee’s swearing in as Chairman, and finally on August 10 an operational quorum was restored with the addition of Commissioner Robert Powelson to the FERC dais.  With three members, FERC could finally begin to tackle the backlog of cases that had piled up since February. And now, with a full roster, all five commissioners can work together to propel crucial infrastructure projects forward as the United States increasingly establishes itself as a global energy superpower.

Today, the Director of FERC’s Office of Energy Projects joined a representative from the U.S. Department of the Interior for a full committee hearing with the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The hearing aimed to examine the permitting processes at both agencies and to identify opportunities to improve efficiency, transparency and accountability as decisions relate to energy and resource infrastructure projects. This forum provided FERC with the perfect opportunity to recognize the strides it has taken since a quorum was restored and recognize any shortcomings in the infrastructure siting process that might require future legislative action.

Further into the future, the full commission of three Republicans and two Democrats is poised to work together to permit infrastructure projects that expand energy access across the United States. This is a win for our economy, as these projects create jobs, improve national security and reinforce our position as a sought-after exporter around the globe.

We’re thrilled to see FERC back at work and firing on all cylinders.

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