What to know about the 3 FERC nominees

By Carlos Anchondo, Nico Portuondo | 03/01/2024 06:39 AM EST

President Joe Biden’s announcement could bring the agency back to five members as it weighs gas projects and major electricity rules.

Judy Chang.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission nominee Judy Chang. President Joe Biden announced her and two others Thursday. Chang/LinkedIn

The White House’s announcement of three candidates Thursday to fill seats on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission moves the panel closer to full strength, but the agency is likely to remain split over many energy and climate issues.

E&E News first reported President Joe Biden’s plans to pick Democrats David Rosner and Judy Chang and Republican Lindsay See as FERC nominees. The move could soon bring the panel back to five members as the agency is weighing major electricity rules and is set to play an important role in determining the fate of many liquefied natural gas projects.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said a “fully-seated, bipartisan” commission offers “more opportunity for advancing long-lasting, sensible energy infrastructure policy.”


“I look forward to reviewing the qualifications of the three individuals nominated today to be FERC Commissioners and assessing their commitment to American energy security,” Manchin said in a statement Thursday.

FERC, which regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil, also approves the siting and construction of liquefied natural gas import and export facilities that are on and near the shore.

Either Rosner or Chang would likely fill the spot of Democratic Commissioner Allison Clements, whose term expires in June. She has announced her intentions to leave the agency after her current term but can still serve up to the end of the year.

If all the proposed nominees are confirmed and Clements departs, the commission would sit at a 3-2 split favoring Democrats under Chair Willie Phillips. The panel currently has three members.

“Congratulations to this impressive group of FERC nominees David Rosner, Judy Chang, & Lindsay See,” Clements said Thursday in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Wishing all 3 of you the best in your confirmation process.”

Emily Beard, a spokesperson for Clements, declined to comment on when Clements might step down from the commission.

‘Better rules?’

FERC hasn’t had a full panel of commissioners since former Chair Richard Glick departed the agency in early 2023 after Manchin blocked his reconfirmation bid over support of additional greenhouse gas considerations for pipeline reviews.

“I am eager for there to be a five-person commission, I think having a full commission adds value to what they produce,” said Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.). “We will get a more collaborative effort and get better rules.”

The commissioners still have to get approval from Senate lawmakers, which involves a lengthy process of confirmation hearings and votes that traditionally takes several months.

Multiple senators asked Thursday about the confirmation chances of the three nominees said they would need more time to evaluate before committing to supporting any of them.

Energy advocates on multiple sides of the agency’s issues said that they hope the confirmation process moves quickly. Among other important rulings, FERC commissioners are in the process of finalizing a high-profile effort to overhaul transmission policies.

“FERC urgently needs a full Commission so it can shape the future of the grid to provide the affordable, reliable and clean power America deserves,” said Christy Walsh, senior attorney with the Sustainable FERC Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Sierra Club Executive Director Ben Jealous said that as the nominees move through the confirmation process, “we will be watching for these candidates to commit to weighing climate, environmental justice, health, and consumer cost impacts heavily in any decision they make. The courts have repeatedly said FERC must factor in these considerations.”

Natural gas supporters are looking to FERC to advance projects, too. In late January, the Department of Energy announced a pause on pending and future LNG export applications to countries that don’t have a free trade agreement with the United States. That pause doesn’t affect decisionmaking at FERC.

Among the projects that the agency is being pressured to consider is the Calcasieu Pass 2 project, which is proposed by Virginia-based Venture Global for southwestern Louisiana.

The nominees “will play an essential role in continuing to advance the growth of U.S. LNG, and we look forward to working with each of them once confirmed,” said Charlie Riedl, executive director of the Center for LNG.

“A huge promotion for him”

David Rosner and FERC logo.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission nominee David Rosner. | LinkedIn (Rosner); FERC/Facebook (logo)

Rosner, assigned since 2022 to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s Democratic staff, had been talked about for months as a possible FERC nominee, as had Chang, the former undersecretary of energy and climate solutions for Massachusetts.

Sasha Mackler, executive director of the energy program at the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank, said Rosner is a “pragmatic and strategic thinker” on a range of energy policy issues. Manchin pushed the White House to pick Rosner.

Mackler said Rosner’s experience at FERC and with Manchin gives him good insight into how Congress functions and how the relationship between Congress and FERC operates.

“I just think that’s the exact right combination of skills for the job at hand,” Mackler said in an interview Thursday, adding that Rosner “understands the bigger picture of where FERC fits into the grander scheme of things when it comes to the regulation of our energy system.”

Rosner worked at the Bipartisan Policy Center between late 2006 and August 2014, according to his LinkedIn page.

At least one environmental group disagreed that he is right for FERC, however.

“The only thing worse than a Joe Manchin staffer on FERC is a Joe Manchin staffer who used to work for a fossil fuel front group,” said Lukas Ross, Friends of the Earth’s climate and energy deputy director, in a statement, referring to BPC.

In response, Mackler said the “complexity of the energy and environmental challenges we face as a nation requires expertise that can engage multiple perspectives.”

Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.), a renewable energy and transmission supporter, said Manchin “has basically ensured that FERC has been neither independent nor fully staffed with good technocrats for the last couple of years.”

Casten said Chang was a “known commodity,” with extensive experience in renewable and transmission issues that will serve her well if confirmed.

He added that Rosner was more of an unknown compared to Chang but nevertheless hopes he succeeds in the role. He added that it’s a major step up for the FERC staffer on Senate Energy and Natural Resources detail, a process by which employees can serve temporary assignments elsewhere in the government to offer specialized expertise.

“Rosner knows his stuff,” Casten said. “This is going to be a huge promotion for him, and we’ll see where that sits.”

A McConnell pick

Drew Wrigley, Patrick Morrisey and Lindsay See.
North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and West Virginia Solicitor General Lindsay See outside the Supreme Court in 2022. They were in Washington for oral arguments on landmark Clean Air Act litigation. See is now a nominee to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. | Francis Chung/POLITICO

See, West Virginia’s current solicitor general, was not front and center on the minds of FERC watchers when she was announced as a nominee for commissioner. The White House said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) recommended her for the FERC role.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, said Thursday he’s proud that See was nominated, adding he’s “confident that Lindsay would serve the commission to the best of her abilities, just like her dedication to the people of West Virginia.”

The choice could be a boon for Republicans in Congress and fossil fuel interests, with Senate Environment and Public Works ranking member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) remarking Thursday that See “does great work” in her current role.

Republicans like Capito and Senate Energy and Natural Resources ranking member John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) have pushed the agency to wield greater authority on grid reliability issues — mainly by shielding fossil fuel power plants from emission regulations from EPA.

See argued on behalf of red states and coal interests in West Virginia v. EPA, a landmark decision the Supreme Court issued in June 2022.

The court’s 6-3 opinion said the Clean Air Act did not give EPA the authority to craft a broad power plant emissions rule like Obama-era Clean Power Plan, a proposal announced in 2015 that never went into effect. The Supreme Court’s ruling restricted how the federal government can regulate carbon emissions from power plants.

Then, that October, See defended the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection over a water certification the agency issued for the Mountain Valley pipeline.

The natural gas pipeline is designed to run 303-miles from West Virginia to southern Virginia. The joint venture behind the project, led by Pittsburgh-based Equitrans Midstream, said this month it will be completed in the second quarter of 2024.

The Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 included a Mountain Valley-related provision that required expedited approvals for the 42-inch diameter pipeline.

“With a full commission, we hope FERC can finally update their policy statements on greenhouse gas emissions and certification of interstate fracked gas pipelines and uphold the climate goals set by the Biden administration,” said Quenton King, a federal legislative specialist with the group Appalachian Voices, which opposes Mountain Valley.

This story also appears in E&E Daily.