President Donald Trump on Monday announced he would nominate two commissioners to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, including a Democratic nominee.
Allison Clements, who previously served as director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Sustainable FERC project and then spent several years as a consultant, will be the Democratic nominee. Clements has over two decades of experience in federal energy regulation for the public and private sector, according to the White House. The Republican nominee, Mark Christie, has served on the Virginia State Corporation Commission since 2004.
Leadership on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee had previously expressed frustration with the White House's lack of movement on bringing forward a Democratic nominee to the independent commission, but praised the decision as an effort to maintain bipartisanship within FERC.
FERC has been operating with a 3-1 Republican majority since March. Commissioner James Danly was confirmed by the Senate on March 13, after President Trump indicated his intention to nominate Danly for one of the two open spots in October.
ENR Chair Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Ranking Member Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., expressed frustration in March that the president had not put forward a Democratic nominee in addition to Danly, as is the tradition for nominations to the independent agency.
The President had a second opportunity to submit a bipartisan pair of candidates, as Republican Commissioner Bernard McNamee indicated in January he would not be seeking a second term as commissioner.
Clements was reportedly pre-cleared by the White House last summer, and Manchin had said during an ENR meeting that the Trump administration was "very impressed with her." Manchin, during the same hearing, said that if the next nominee was not paired with a Democrat, the committee would not vote to advance the candidate.
On Monday, Manchin indicated he was pleased with the White House's decision.
"In a political climate that is often paralyzed by partisanship, a bipartisan FERC is more essential than ever," he said in a statement. "I thank the President and the White House for nominating both a Democrat and Republican today because it is an important step towards restoring a fully seated Commission."
The Senator also said he looked forward to reviewing the qualifications of both nominees.
Clements will fill the spot vacated by Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur in July of last year, while Christie will fill the spot left by McNamee.
Renewable energy advocates also praised the decision, which will fill all five seats of the commission for the first time since before the departure of Commissioner Robert Powelson in 2018.
"This is a welcome announcement, and we congratulate both Ms. Clements and Mr. Christie on their nominations," said Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy in a statement. "ACORE has long called for a full, bipartisan complement of five FERC commissioners."