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Senate Approves Appointment of New Energy Regulators, Expanding Biden’s Influence on Panel’s Renewable Energy Policies



President Joe Biden’s control over a crucial federal energy commission will extend beyond his initial term, providing a boost to the Democratic Party’s efforts for renewable energy regardless of the election outcome in November.

The Senate took action to ensure this reality by approving two new members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and scheduling a vote for a third new member possibly as early as Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., stated that confirming the three nominees would allow FERC to maintain its quorum and continue its mandate of providing Americans with affordable, reliable, and safe energy.

The five-member commission oversees various aspects of energy infrastructure, such as natural gas pipelines and electricity transmission between states. In a recent development, the panel passed a significant rule making it simpler to transmit renewable energy like wind and solar power onto the electric grid, aligning with Biden’s objective of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions nationwide by 2050.

This rule aims to upgrade the country’s aging power grid to meet growing demand driven by factors like data centers, electric vehicles, buildings, artificial intelligence, among others.

Earlier this week, the agency granted approval for the nearly $8 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline to commence natural gas transportation across challenging terrains in West Virginia and Virginia, despite objections from environmental groups, landowners, and some officials.

On Wednesday, the Senate greenlit the nominations of David Rosner (Democrat) and Lindsay See (Republican) for three- and four-year terms, respectively, on the commission. Additionally, discussion on Judy Chang’s (Democrat) nomination for a five-year term is in progress, with a final vote expected soon to replace the outgoing Democrat member.

If confirmed as anticipated, this vote would give Democrats control over the commission until at least June 2026, coinciding with the end of Chairman Willie Phillips’ term.

Senator Joe Manchin, I-W.Va., emphasized the importance of a fully seated, bipartisan FERC in advancing sensible energy infrastructure policy. He highlighted that a diverse panel would ensure the fair assessment of all interests involved.

Rosner, See, and Chang come from varied backgrounds and experiences but are united in their commitment to work together for the common good. With their bipartisan approach, they aim to consider and evaluate different viewpoints while prioritizing the public interest. Manchin expressed confidence in the nominees based on their merits and abilities.

The approval process reflected bipartisan support, with Rosner and See receiving 67-27 and 83-12 votes, respectively. Senator Tim Kaine, D-Va., expressed reservations about the nominations due to his concerns about certain energy projects.

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