Surprise! President Trump Nominates Democrat and Republican to FERC

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On July 27, 2020, President Trump nominated two candidates to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), securing a Republican majority on the Commission through June 2021 while also ensuring a continued quorum.

Trump nominated Allison Clements, the Democrats’ top pick, alongside Republican Mark C. Christie. Clements currently serves as founder and president of Goodgrid, LLC, an energy policy and strategy consulting firm. She previously worked for over a decade at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and spent two years as director of the clean energy markets program at the Energy Foundation. Christie currently serves as chairman of the Virginia State Corporation Commission, having served for 16 years on the Virginia board that oversees utilities.

FERC is a five-member agency that should have no more than three members of any one party. For much of the past year it has been operating with three Republicans and one Democrat. FERC’s newest commissioner, James Danly, was confirmed in March despite requests from Democrats to pair his nomination with Clements. Clements would fill the seat left vacant by Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur in August 2019. If confirmed, Christie will take the seat of Republican Commissioner Bernard McNamee, whose tenure expired in June but who plans to stay on until his replacement is seated.

Republican Chairman Chatterjee has announced that he will remain on the Commission until the end of his term, which expires June 2021, although the next President will determine if he continues to serve as chairman. Trump’s appointment of Christie, paired with Chairman Chatterjee’s intention to fulfill his term, could secure a Republican-held Commission for the first months of a Biden presidency in the event the Democratic nominee is successful in November.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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