- Anthony Pugliese, the chief of staff at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, has resigned effective March 15, the agency announced Wednesday.
- Pugliese stoked controversy last year for making political comments in the media and implying FERC was working with the Department of Energy on a support package for coal and nuclear plants. Agency officials did not give a reason for his departure or explain why they waited to announce it.
- FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee issued a statement thanking Pugliese for "his willingness to serve the agency and the country." FERC declined further comment.
The announcement of Pugliese’s departure Thursday was unexpected by many in the energy community, including at least one regulator at FERC itself.
After an appearance at a renewable energy conference on Wednesday, Commissioner Bernard McNamee told reporters he did not know Pugliese had stepped down last Friday, and was not aware if he had been in the office last week, or since.
“I’ve been out. I was at CERAWeek,” he said. “I’m not trying to be coy. I don’t know.”
Pugliese attracted attention last year for actions atypical for an employee at FERC, which is an independent agency whose staff usually avoid overtly political statements.
In July, Pugliese appeared on an episode of Breitbart News Sunday, a podcast run by the right-wing media outlet, and criticized New York Democrats for blocking pipeline expansion through the state.
Then, in August, the chief of staff told a nuclear energy conference that FERC is helping identify coal and nuclear plants essential to the grid — the first step in a bailout plan leaked from the Trump administration that spring.
In September, E&E News released emails from Pugliese praising far-right Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and seeking meetings with members of the populist UK Independence Party while in London on official FERC business.
That prompted one prominent former FERC staffer to call for the chief of staff to step down, but then-Chairman Kevin McIntyre defended Pugliese and kept him in the job. McIntyre, however, stepped down from the chairmanship last fall for health reasons, handing the gavel to Chatterjee.
Pugliese’s departure means Chatterjee will need to find a new chief of staff, a key position at the agency that coordinates among commissioners’ offices. The chairman was also slated to speak at the same conference as McNamee on Wednesday, but organizers said he was unable to attend due to travel issues. FERC declined further comment on the chief of staff departure on Wednesday evening.