- President Donald Trump on Thursday appointed Commissioner James Danly to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, replacing Chairman Neil Chatterjee.
- The appointment comes in the midst of a tight race between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden for the presidency.
- Chatterjee, who served as chairman since October 2018, will stay on the commission until the end of his term, he said in a tweet, which ends June 2021.
Chatterjee's most recent actions at the commission frustrated some on the right who feared he was leaning too far left.
"Just last month, Chatterjee took two significant steps to the political left — first to issue the final rule on distributed energy resources and then to host an all-day, Commissioner-led technical conference on carbon pricing," Travis Fisher, former advisor to Commissioner Bernard McNamee, said in an interview. Danly voted against the distributed energy order and dissented in part on the carbon pricing policy statement that followed the conference, calling it "unnecessary and unwise" at the time.
Chatterjee served as interim chair of the commission from his appointment in August 2017 to December, before taking over in October 2018, after former Chairman Kevin McIntyre stepped down.
“It’s been the honor of a lifetime to serve as the Chairman of FERC alongside my colleagues and staff, who represent some of the most talented and hardworking professionals in the US government,” he said in a statement. "But our work — my work — at the Commission isn’t over. I look forward to working with my friend, Chairman Danly, as well as the next Administration to continue to carry out our important mission.”
Danly has served as a Commissioner since March and served as general counsel at the commission since 2017.
“Neil has truly left his mark on FERC and the energy sector by brokering a significant agreement allowing us to move forward with liquefied natural gas terminals, which helped secure our American energy independence,” Danly said in a statement. “He also made a lasting impact through his commitment to protecting competitive markets, modernizing our policies under PURPA, expediting the approvals of much-needed critical energy infrastructure and so much more. I thank Neil for his leadership, and I look forward to continuing to work with him in this new role.”
The White House had not issued a statement as of Thursday night.
Commissioner Richard Glick congratulated Danly and commended Chatterjee's work in a statement issued Thursday night.
"Although we haven't always agreed, I know that Chairman Chatterjee arrived at his views honestly and independently," he said. "And I appreciate his willingness to ignore party affiliation and work with me on several key initiatives that will prove beneficial to this nation. I look forward to continuing work with Chairman Chatterjee in the coming months."