Another FERC Commissioner to Resign
Another member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has announced that she will step down from her post, leaving the possibility that the board could be left with only one member.
Colette Honorable, who was appointed to FERC in 2014 by then-President Barack Obama, will be coming to the end of her term in June, and will not stick with the board for a second term, she announced Friday (April 28). Honorable follows Norman Bay, who resigned from the commission in February, shortly after President Donald J. Trump named commissioner Cheryl LaFleur acting chair.
The commission, which can have up to five members, had only three at the beginning of the year, and Bay’s resignation resulted in a lack of a quorum for business. Reports surfaced in March that Trump was set to nominate three Republicans to open seats on the bipartisan commission, but the administration has yet to formally nominate any new members.
The board can have no more than three members from any one party; LaFleur and Honorable, both Obama appointees, are Democrats.
FERC plays a role in a number of energy-industry processes, including the approval of new and expanded interstate natural gas pipeline projects.
Honorable posted a statement about her resignation on Twitter Friday, simply saying, “After much prayer and consideration, I’ve decided not to pursue another term at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.”
She also added, “I appreciate the strong bipartisan support I’ve enjoyed over the years and look forward to continuing this important work after leaving the commission.”
Honorable did not say, however, whether she plans to leave immediately at the end of her term, or if she would stay on until new members are named.
FERC and New Pipelines
FERC plays a role in a number of energy-industry processes, including the approval of new and expanded interstate natural gas pipeline projects. In the days before Bay’s resignation took effect, the commission gave its certification to several new pipeline projects, including Pennsylvania’s Atlantic Sunrise expansion, the Rover Pipeline Project in the Midwest, and Leach Xpress and Rayne Xpress, from Tennessee to Texas.
Spectra Energy’s Nexus Gas Transmission project, which would move 1.5 million cubic feet per day from Ohio to Michigan, did not get approval from the commission before Bay’s tenure came to an end, leaving the pipeline plan in limbo.
When President Trump does nominate new FERC commissioners, they will face a Senate confirmation, a process that some in the industry worry could take months.
“Even if the president puts forward names today and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) moves quickly to vet and confirm them as she has promised, it will likely be another two months before any new commissioners take their seats,” several oil and gas executives wrote in an op-ed published April 21 by the Washington Examiner.
FERC is an independent body within the Department of Energy. It was established in 1935 as a five-member body, nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, for the regulation of interstate electricity and hydropower.
The commission was granted power over interstate natural gas trade in 1938, and its powers related to natural gas were expanded in the 1970s.