The country’s influential energy regulatory body is on the verge of losing its main supporter for climate action, which could lead to the closure of one of the White House’s most effective channels for promoting its environmentally-friendly policies.
Last week, Allison Clements informed POLITICO that she will not be pursuing another term on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This agency is responsible for creating regulations that could greatly affect the nation’s plans to modernize its power grid. This modernization is necessary in order to support a large number of wind and solar projects that are crucial for achieving the Biden administration’s environmental and clean energy objectives.
Clements may leave as soon as June 30, which is when her term as a commissioner ends. This would result in the commission having three vacancies out of its five members, falling short of the necessary three-person quorum required to pass regulations for the power grid and interstate pipeline network under its jurisdiction.
Alternatively, she may decide to remain in her position until the end of the year. This would allow the White House more time to select a successor and guide them through the process of confirmation by the Senate.
It has not been a simple undertaking for President Joe Biden, as he has clashed with Senator.Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who leads the Energy and Natural Resources Committee responsible for vetting FERC’s nominees. Manchin’s opposition to former FERC Chair Richard Glick’s efforts to weigh climate change when assessing natural gas projects led to the progressive regulator’s departure at the end of 2022.
Clements informed POLITICO that she will not be running for a second term on the commission. This announcement was made shortly after the White House officially appointed Willie Phillips, currently acting FERC chair, to the role. Phillips, a moderate chosen by President Biden, had received backing from Senator Manchin and Senate Republicans for his work in expediting the approval process for fossil fuel infrastructure.
Clements and her team did not provide specifics on her departure date, but she stated that she will continue her work at FERC on an upcoming overhaul of regulations for constructing new power transmission systems.
She stated that she is excited to continue collaborating with the chairman and Commissioner [Mark] Christie in completing the transition planning rule and tackling other important matters for the commission until then.
One year ago, Phillips was given the title of “acting” chair. People who observe the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) speculated that this was a move by the White House to have the choice to name a more progressive nominee, such as Clements, as chair. This also allowed them to have some control over Manchin.
Biden’s attempts to halt the issuing of new export licenses for LNG plants.
Spokespersons for the leader of the Senate majorityMitch McConnell
The status of the Republican nominee was not commented on in response to requests.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an autonomous organization, has announced its intention to proceed with its usual process of issuing permits, which the natural gas industry believes is crucial for ensuring a stable supply in the United States. However, without enough members to make decisions, FERC will also be unable to make any progress.
The individual stated that it goes against the desires of Republicans and the gas industry, who want to expedite the process. Therefore, they should be the ones requesting the White House to complete this task.
Neil Chatterjee, a Republican who led the commission during the term of former President Donald Trump, stated that he believes the delay in the process is caused by the White House, and not by Republicans.
According to an email, the White House is not interested in appointing any new members to the commission at this time as it may hinder the Chairman’s efforts to release a major transmission rule. Any new FERC commissioners would inevitably delay the process, regardless of their stance on transmission.
Clements, who was previously an environmental lawyer, frequently faced criticism from Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Republican Representative from Missouri, asked her about
An accusation that has been widely disproven.
Conservative media groups criticized her for attending a dinner hosted by a clean energy foundation, deeming it inappropriate.
Clements contended that the meeting did not violate FERC’s ethics rules, a claim that was supported by the agency’s ethics office.
Former FERC Chair Glick expressed understanding for the backlash faced by Clements for speaking out as a regulator on clean energy, drawing parallels to his own actions to tackle climate concerns which may have played a role in his removal from the commission more than a year ago.
“He stated that it can be difficult when individuals who deny the existence of climate change attack your credibility for simply recognizing the ongoing shift towards renewable energy across the nation.”
However, Commissioner Clements responded to these unfounded and targeted criticisms with admirable poise and expertise. She continues to make significant contributions to several crucial matters under FERC’s jurisdiction.
Clements still has strong support from the climate and clean energy sectors. Elise Caplan, vice president of regulatory affairs at the American Council on Renewable Energy, expressed gratitude for Commissioner Clements’ steadfast advocacy on important matters such as interregional transmission, grid-enhancing technologies, and accurate capacity evaluation.
“She stated that her carefully crafted and thorough opinions, agreements, and disagreements are essential for anyone involved in the shift towards a sustainable and dependable power grid.”
This report was contributed by Josh Siegel.