White House Shows Contempt for Informed and Independent FERC with Danly Nomination

Statement by Sam Gomberg, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Oct 1, 2019

WASHINGTON (October 1, 2019)—In a marked departure from decades of precedent, the White House nominated James Danly, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) general counsel, to fill one of two vacant seats on the Commission.

Statement by Sam Gomberg, Senior Energy Analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Mr. Danly is woefully underqualified for the job, and President Trump’s decision not to pair the Republican commission nomination with that Allison Clement, the Senate’s suggested choice to fill the open Democratic seat, is a misguided move that would be a disaster for consumers, the climate and any remaining vestiges of independent and informed federal decision-making over the nation’s energy sector.

“This is a dangerous precedent for either political party and will only add legal uncertainty to impending and future FERC decisions. Not only does the nomination of James Danly throw out decades of precedent—precedent that has helped preserve FERC as an independent and objective regulator of energy markets—we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that this nominee is woefully unqualified for the job. Prior to his appointment to general counsel at FERC, he had a brief stint as an associate energy attorney. I simply don’t see how the American public can have any confidence in his ability to understand the complex issues facing the energy sector right now and to make forward-looking, well-informed decisions on the issues awaiting the Commission. His inexperience absolutely increases the risk of a Commission unable to defend consumers from biased and politically motivated attacks on our regulatory structure.

“It’s hard to imagine that Danly’s nomination–particularly in light of Trump’s refusal to pair him with a Democratic nominee to fill the other vacant seat–is anything more than an effort to diminish the Commission’s ability to make informed and objective decisions and fulfill their obligation to protect consumers. The Senate should refuse to move Danly forward without a pairing with Ms. Clements to fill the Democratic seat. Unless the Senate demands a fully functioning, bipartisan FERC, President Trump will be happy to leave Democratic seats empty and silence meaningful bipartisan discourse.”