Joseph T. Kelliher and Suedeen Kelly were sworn in late last week as the newest members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Both are expected to make their debut appearance at the Commission’s next regular meeting on Dec. 17.

The two were sworn in less than two weeks after the Senate confirmed their nominations (see NGI’s Daily Gas Price Index, Nov. 10). Kelliher’s nomination had been held up in the Senate for two years as a result of holds that were placed on it, while Kelly had been nominated by the White House last March.

Kelliher, a Republican, most recently was a senior policy advisor at the Department of Energy (DOE). Kelly, a Democrat, was an attorney in New Mexico and a former state regulator.

There has been no word from the White House yet on whether it intends to tap sitting FERC Commissioner William Massey for a third term. His existing term expired in late June, but he has been serving out a grace period that will terminate when Congress adjourns for the year this week. The White House reportedly brokered a deal earlier this month in which it agreed to re-nominate Massey in return for California and other West Coast Democrats approving the confirmations of Kelliher and Kelly (see NGI’s Daily Gas Price Index, Nov. 11).

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) last week placed holds on a number of President Bush’s judicial and other nominees, claiming that the White House has failed to live up to its end of the bargain (see NGI’s Daily Gas Price Index, Nov. 21). “We had an agreement, and they haven’t moved forward with their end of the agreement,” said a spokesman for Feinstein.

Massey, a Democrat, was nominated by former President Clinton to the Commission in 1993. If he is re-nominated by the White House and confirmed by the Senate, it will be the first time in more than two years that all five seats of the Commission are filled. Some Capitol Hill watchers believe Massey would face a tough confirmation in the Senate.

The White House, however, has the option of making a recess appointment after the Senate adjourns, which would allow it to appoint Massey to the Commission without Senate approval.

Absent Massey, Kelly would be the sole Democrat on the Commission. FERC Chairman Pat Wood, Commissioner Nora M. Brownell and Commissioner Kelliher are Republicans. Whoever is chosen for the fifth seat will have to be a Democrat or an Independent. There can be no more than three commissioners from one party on the panel at the same time.

Kelly will fill out the remaining term of former FERC Chairman Curt Hebert Jr. Her term will expire on June 20, 2004, at which time she will probably be handily re-confirmed by the Senate to a second term that would run five years. Kelliher will fill out the term of former Commissioner Linda K. Breathitt, which expires on June 30, 2007.

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