Senate restores quorum at FERC, confirms DOE deputy secretary

Quorum has been restored to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, following the unanimous confirmation of Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson by the U.S. Senate.

Four of FERC’s five commissioner seats had been vacant since July, when Commissioner Collette Honorable resigned — leaving the agency unable to make substantive orders, initiatives and regulations.

“Mr. Chatterjee and Mr. Powelson certainly have their work cut out for them, but I’m confident they will work to quickly get this independent agency back on track and tackle the important work that has been deferred,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Chatterjee most recently served as energy policy advisor to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, while Powelson is a commissioner for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

Federal law dictates only three of FERC’s commissioner seats be filled for the body to function, though the Senate will look to fill the remaining pair later this year. President Donald Trump’s other nominees — Kevin Mcintyre and Richard Glick — will meet with Murkowski and the Senate Energy Natural Resources Committee she leads on September 7.

Senate also confirms deputy secretary for DOE

Nominee Dan Brouillette was also confirmed by the Senate via a 79-17 vote in-favor to serve as Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Mr. Brouillette is well-qualified to be Deputy Secretary of Energy and will be a good second-in-command to oversee programs critical to cybersecurity, energy innovation, and scientific discovery,” Murkowski said.

Brouillette has a history with DOE, having served as its assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs from 2001 to 2003. He had stints with the Louisiana State Mineral and Energy Board, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Ford Motor Co. and USAA.

Other nominees advanced through committee

Murkowski’s committee also held a meeting to advance several additional nominees to the Senate floor for consideration when Congress returns from its August recess.

For consideration at the Department of the Interior:

  • Brenda Burman, to be Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation;
  • Susan Combs, to be Assistant Secretary of Policy, Management and Budget; and
  • Douglas Domenech, to be Assistant Secretary of Insular Affairs.

For consideration at the Department of Energy:

  • Paul Dabbar, to be Under Secretary for Science; and
  • Mark Menezes, to be Under Secretary of Energy.

“I am hopeful that we will be able to confirm these nominees — and the others we have received in recent days — shortly after we return in September,” Murkowski said.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for

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