Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur will likely stay on the commission after her term ends on June 30, but could depart earlier, according to her staff.
FERC regulations allow her to continue serving until the end of the current session of Congress or until a successor is sworn in, which is increasingly unlikely by the end of June without a nomination in place. A recent media report said LaFleur planned to finish the year at the commission, but her spokesperson told Utility Dive her exit could come earlier, depending on future plans.
The Democratic commissioner, currently the only woman serving on FERC, indicated at the end of January that she would have preferred to be nominated for a third FERC term, but Senate leadership told her she would not be renominated.
With LaFleur's exit, FERC would still have a three-member quorum to proceed with votes, but it would lose the 2-2 split with Republican commissioners that the Democrats have had in recent months.
LaFleur and Commissioner Richard Glick have blocked action on natural gas infrastructure that didn't include the full impact of climate change.
With LaFleur on the commission, FERC was forced to reach a compromise to approve natural gas infrastructure opposed by Democrats for environmental reasons. In February, the commission approved a liquefied natural gas export facility. LaFleur's vote forced the inclusion of landmark greenhouse gas calculations in the approval order.
LaFleur gave herself an option to serve past her term in her January announcement, writing that she planned to stay at FERC "probably longer" than June 30. However, she is not making guarantees about finishing up the year, even if someone is not put in her seat, according to Andrew Holleman, LaFleur's communications and policy analyst.
LaFleur is FERC's longest-serving current commissioner and the only regulator with electric utility experience, having worked as executive vice president and acting CEO of National Grid.
As no one political party can hold more than three seats on the five-member commission, the White House would need to nominate a Republican at the same time as a Democrat for the two vacancies — once LaFleur departs — in order to prevent a deadlocked FERC.