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Senate Confirms New Energy Regulators  06/13 06:11

   

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Joe Biden's grip on a key federal energy 
commission will last beyond his first term, giving a boost to the Democrat's 
push for renewable energy regardless of the election results in November.

   The Senate moved to ensure that political reality as lawmakers approved two 
new members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and set up a vote on a 
third new panelist as soon as Thursday.

   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said confirmation of the three 
nominees would allow FERC to "keep its quorum and continue its mission of 
providing Americans with affordable, reliable, safe energy.''

   The five-member commission oversees natural gas pipelines and other energy 
infrastructure, including transmission of electricity across state lines. The 
panel approved a long-awaited rule last month making it easier to transmit 
renewable energy such as wind and solar power to the electric grid -- a key 
part of Biden's goal to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide by 
2050. The rule is aimed at boosting the nation's aging power grid to meet 
surging demand fueled by huge data centers, electrification of vehicles and 
buildings, artificial intelligence and other uses.

   Earlier this week, the agency approved a request by the nearly $8 billion 
Mountain Valley Pipeline to begin sending natural gas across rugged 
mountainsides in West Virginia and Virginia, despite longstanding objections 
from environmental groups, landowners and some elected officials.

   On Wednesday, the Senate approved the nominations of Democrat David Rosner 
and Republican Lindsay See for three and four-year terms, respectively, on the 
commission. Senators also limited debate on Democrat Judy Chang's nomination to 
a five-year term. A final vote on Chang's nomination to replace Democrat 
Allison Clements could occur as soon as Thursday.

   If approved as expected, the vote would give Democrats a working majority on 
the commission until at least June 2026, when the term of Democratic Chairman 
Willie Phillips is set to expire.

   "A fully seated, bipartisan FERC provides more opportunity for advancing 
long-lasting, sensible energy infrastructure policy,'' said West Virginia Sen. 
Joe Manchin, a Democrat-turned-independent who chairs the Senate Energy and 
Natural Resources Committee.

   "When it comes to fairly assessing all interests, five heads are better than 
one,'' Manchin said Wednesday. "Bringing together five different people, with 
five different life experiences and perspectives, helps ensure that all 
affected interests will be heard and fairly considered and assessed'' by the 
energy commission.

   Rosner, See and Chang "are very different people, from very different 
backgrounds,'' said Manchin, who supported all three nominees. "What matters 
most is their willingness to work with one another, to consider and assess 
fairly different interests and points of view, and to put partisan passions 
aside in favor of the public interest.''

   Rosner, a former FERC staffer, has spent the past two years on Manchin's 
Democratic staff on the energy committee. See, who serves as solicitor general 
for the state of West Virginia, argued the state's case challenging a major 
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule on power plant pollution before the 
Supreme Court. Chang, of Massachusetts, is a former undersecretary of energy 
and climate solutions for the state government.

   Manchin said he knows Rosner well: "I have seen firsthand his expert 
knowledge on energy issues, his fairness, his nonpartisan approach to every 
problem we've had, and his ability to work with both sides on these issues, and 
he's done that tremendously.''

   Manchin, a political moderate who plays a crucial role on energy issues, 
called See "a very capable and experienced lawyer" who is "well-qualified to 
serve on the commission.''

   Chang, who now teaches at Harvard's Kennedy School, led energy policy under 
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker. "I can think of no better preparation for 
serving on a bipartisan commission than working for a Republican administration 
in a very blue state,'' Manchin said.

   Rosner's nomination was approved, 67-27, while See won approval, 83-12.

   Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia opposed both nominations, saying he 
continued to be unhappy about federal approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, 
a longtime Manchin priority.

   "I voted no on rubber-stamping the same old people to FERC," Kaine said in a 
statement.

 
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