Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, believes a quartet of Trump administration nominees to FERC and the Department of Interior (DOI) are likely to be confirmed -- but when that will be is still unclear.
"It is my hope that we will be able to advance your names out of committee shortly," Murkowski said at the conclusion of a hearing Thursday to consider the nominations of Kevin McIntyre and Richard Glick to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Joseph Balash and Ryan Nelson to positions at DOI.
"I do think it's important that whether it's the FERC and restoring FERC to a full quorum, or providing the Secretary of Interior his team to be working on these issues that we all recognize are very important, we can't get you there fast enough," she added.
Approval by the committee and confirmation by the full Senate of the two FERC nominees would bring the Commission to its full slate of five members. Robert Powelson and Neil Chatterjee, both Trump nominees, were both sworn in last month, joining holdover Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur.
McIntyre, an attorney with the law firm Jones Day who currently serves as co-head of the global energy practice, was nominated by President Trump to a term at FERC expiring June 30, 2018, and an additional term expiring June 30, 2023, and would be installed as chairman. He is a Republican. Chatterjee is acting as Chairman pending McIntyre's assumed confirmation.
Glick, a Democrat and general counsel for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, would serve the remainder of a five-year term expiring June 30, 2022.
Balash is nominated to be Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management; Nelson to be Solicitor at DOI.
McIntyre told the committee that he believes any consideration of action by FERC, including enforcement actions, must begin with a firm understanding of applicable legal requirements, and any action must satisfy those requirements in full.
"I believe in a robust program of enforcement and if confirmed I would bring that view to my work at the FERC...I think it goes beyond just 'just and reasonable rates'...Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 [gave] express authority to the FERC to police market manipulation in energy markets regulated by the FERC. That's something that comes up in a number of different contexts, and I think it's essential that the FERC get that right."
There were no confrontations during the hearing and Senators said the nominees were all likely to be approved by the committee.
"I'm confident that Mr. McIntyre will be a capable Chairman upon his confirmation," Murkowski said. "He has significant experience and strong qualifications for the role. And Mr. Glick, who is Senator [Maria] Cantwell's general counsel here on the committee, is certainly well known to many of us."
Glick "brings a rich wealth of knowledge of electric utility, natural gas and a myriad of other energy issues working in both the public and private sectors," said Cantwell, the committee’s ranking Democratic member.
FERC's first public meeting since January, which will be manned by three Commissioners, is scheduled for Sept. 20.