Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Norman Bay has only a few days before his resignation is effective. He announced he would resign Feb. 3 after President Donald trump demoted him from being chairman and named Cheryl LaFleur to be an acting chair.
His departure will leave just two members after that date. It also means FERC will be unable to convene a quorum or issue decisions until the White House appoints a new commissioner. Some saw the naming of LaFleur to be acting chairman as a signal to make the FERC more sympathetic to energy industry interests.
Bay joined the commission in 2014 when he was appointed by President Obama. In his letter of resignation, he pointed out that the commission issued 1,243 orders in 2015 and only 36 had a dissent.
“Of the 36 orders with a dissent, only two involved matters where there was a split between the three Democrats on one side and the Republicans on the other,” said Bay. He said in 2016, the commission issued 1,178 orders with only 20 dissents.
“We promoted competition, efficiency, and transparency, while furthering consumer protection and the integrity of the markets,” he wrote.
But it was also clear that the agency became more politicized as it became the target of environmental protests. Observers pointed out that anti-pipeline and climate change groups targeted FERC meetings and even commissioners’ homes. As a result, the regulators closed some of their meetings to the public.