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McNamee leaving FERC; will agency lose quorum?

Bernard McNamee, who has been part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission since he was nominated by President Trump and confirmed in late 2018, apparently is stepping down from FERC, according to reports.

McNamee said he wanted to spend more time with his family, according to reports of the meeting at LAW360.

LAW360 and other entities, quoting McNamee comments at a FERC meeting, reported his so-far-unofficial resignation. McNamee has not released a statement on his decision, although several exchanges with other FERC officials seemed to confirm his departure.

“Although Commissioner @McNameeFERC & I haven’t always seen eye to eye, I have always respected his intellect & his strong commitment to public service,” FERC Commissioner Rich Glick posted on Twitter. “I will miss our spirited exchanges of ideas @FERC.”

McNamee responded shortly thereafter to Glick and a similar tweet by FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee. “Thanks for the kind comments,” McNamee replied. “It’s been a pleasure to work with you.”

McNamee was confirmed to FERC in December 2018. He previously worked in the U.S. Department of Energy, including as executive director of the Office of Policy and Deputy General Counsel for Energy Policy.

McNamee’s term expires in June. If President Trump doesn’t appoint a successor and have him confirmed in time for McNamee’s leaving, it would result in only two commissioners at FERC–Glick and Chatterjee. Robert Powelson resigned last summer to become president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Water Companies.

Cheryl Lafleur also stepped down from FERC in 2019, after nine years as a commissioner. She was the only Obama-era appointee who had remained in the year after Trump won office.

FERC needs three commissioners to maintain a quorum. The commission went without one for six months in 2017 until Powelson and Chatterjee were sworn in that August. FERC is the federal agency responsible for rulemaking in the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil. The agency oversees LNG terminal construction proposals and hydropower projects.