- Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner (FERC) Richard Glick told a crowd of state energy regulators on Tuesday that he was surprised to find little "opportunity to compromise" within the regulatory body.
- FERC leadership consistently looks for issues that have a majority of votes, instead of compromising on topics to achieve full commission support, he said. "I hope we will return back to the days when... FERC used to be able to work as a nonpartisan entity," Glick said during a session at the 2019 annual meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.
- President Donald Trump has two vacancies to fill at the commission, but he only offered one nominee to serve as a third Republican. On Tuesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced FERC general counsel James Danly's nomination by a 12-8 vote, with Ranking Member Joe Manchin, W. Va., the only Democrat in support.
Glick, the sole Democratic commissioner, said he had been surprised at the lack of compromise. Former Democratic Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur had also indicated that many dockets would become non-starters without her support, when the commissioners were deadlocked 2-2.
LaFleur, who sided with Republicans to break deadlocks on a number of orders regarding liquefied natural gas pipelines, said she had received numerous requests to vote down those orders. However, she had already dissented "behind the scenes" on a number of LNG-related orders, which never made it to an official vote because they lacked her support, she told Utility Dive ahead of her exit.
But FERC generally proceeded with orders that could acheive a majority vote without compromises between commissioners for unanimous support.
With the advancement of Danly, Democratic Senators on the committee fear there will be less opportunity for compromise going forward, as Republicans will have the three members necessary to establish a quorum. Having a fifth and Democratic commissioner nominated would have helped prevent partisan influence in FERC. This also sets a dangerous precedent for future administrations, Glick said.
"What's it say for the next time ... let's say there's a Democratic president, does that mean the Democratic president doesn't nominate any Republican nominees? That's not the way FERC was designed to operate, but hopefully we'll get back to that," he said.
"I'm pretty concerned about the process, in large part because there's been a tradition essentially" to have a bipartisan pair of nominations when vacancies allow it, said Glick.
Committee Democrats, including Manchin, had asked the White House to consider pairing Danly's nomination with a Democratic member.
The committee also approved current Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette to replace Rick Perry at the Energy Department, with a 16-4 vote.