FERC Acting Chair Cheryl LaFleur Tries to Reassure Pipeline Cos.

As we reported yesterday, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) chairman Norman Bay has his knickers in a twist over getting a demotion by President Trump, who has named another sitting FERC Commissioner, Cheryl LaFleur, to become the chairwoman of FERC (see FERC Commissioner Resigns Threatening Major M-U Pipeline Projects). Bay is leaving in a huff this Friday. His resignation means there will only be two (out of five) Commissioners left until Trump names three new ones. Since FERC Commissioners must be approved by the Senate and since Democrats in the Senate are obstructing Trump’s nominations (sore losers), getting new appointments anytime soon is not in the cards. In the meantime, after this Friday there will not be a quorum–not enough people to vote on important projects like the NEXUS Pipeline and Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. The oil and gas industry–and employees at FERC–are “unsettled” to say the least. In an effort to calm the storm, Ms. LaFleur was interviewed on FERC’s own Open Access podcast series (transcript below). What did she say? Even with the quorum, important work at the agency will continue–things like hydropower inspections, safety reviews of natgas facilities, audits and other activities. You don’t need Commissioners for that. LaFleur said the three Commissioners are working flat out this week to get as much done as they can before old Norm goes home, taking his marbles with him (our words, not hers). LaFleur is also working, presumably with FERC’s lawyers, on the “potential expansion” of what staffers can and can’t do–expanding their role during the period when there is not a quorum. Apparently there is precedence for doing so. Here’s what she said on the podcast…

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