Commissioner Bernard McNamee said Thursday he will leave FERC at the end of his current term, which is set to expire June 30.
“Though many people have encouraged me to stay and seek another term, I have informed the White House that I will not seek reappointment,” McNamee said during the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s public meeting in Washington, DC.
The decision was made, McNamee said, after a long career in public service and in order to spend more time with his family.
“This has been one of the most interesting, rewarding jobs I’ve ever had, and I’ve enjoyed the work, the issues, the people – in short, I love this job. But I love my family more.”
McNamee said he plans to leave FERC when his term expires -- “or later, as permitted, if I’m needed to do so” -- but he will not be “checking out right away. There’s a lot of work to get done here at the Commission between now and the end of my term.” He said he has no plans yet for his post-FERC years, but “I anticipate I’m still going to be active in addressing important energy issues facing the nation.”
McNamee’s exit would leave the traditionally five-member FERC with only two commissioners – Republican Neil Chatterjee, who is chairman, and Democrat Richard Glick. Chatterjee's term is set to expire in 2021 and Glick's in 2022.
FERC general counsel James Danly was nominated by President Trump in October to fill one of the two current vacancies at the Commission, and his nomination was voted out by Senate committee in November. The full Senate, however, failed to vote on the confirmation during 2019 and the nomination was returned to the White House Jan. 3. Trump will presumably restart the process, once again sending Danly's nomination back to the Hill for a second run through the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Danly's nomination may have stalled in the home stretch because of a simmering conflict over FERC's long-standing reputation for independence and the number of Republican and Democratic party members on the panel. By law, no more than three seats at FERC may be held by one political party.
FERC currently has Republican members Chairman Neil Chatterjee and McNamee, with Glick the lone Democrat.
During the runup to Danly's nomination there were complaints from Democrats, including Joe Manchin (D-WV), the ranking member on the committee, that the White House had not also sent the name of a Democratic nominee. Danly's nomination broke with tradition by putting forward the name of a Republican to fill one empty seat without pairing it with a Democrat to fill the other, they argued.
Manchin and other Democrats have been lobbying for Allison Clements, a former senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, to be nominated to FERC. Trump administration officials have reportedly met with Clements this month, but the White House remains mum about nominations to FERC.