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President Biden will name Willie Phillips as interim head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the White House confirmed Tuesday.
The agency confirmed Phillips, a member of the commission since Dec. 21, will replace Chairman Richard Glick, who left his post Tuesday. Phillips, whose term as a commissioner expires in 2026, will serve as acting head of the utility agency until a permanent replacement is found. Biden nominated Glick for another term in May, but In November, Senate Energy Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he would not support Glick’s renomination as FERC chairman, with a spokesperson saying the West Virginia Democrat was “not comfortable holding a hearing” to give Glick another term.
FERC regulates interstate energy issues, including oil and gas pipelines. While Manchin did not elaborate on his opposition to Glick’s renomination, it came shortly after he had vocally opposed a move by FERC to incorporate pipelines’ contributions to climate change into the approval process.
Glick’s departure gives the commission an even split of two Republicans and two Democrats. Regulations bar the board from having a majority of more than one on either side. Phillips was confirmed to FERC by the Senate in a voice vote, which typically indicates lack of controversy, but his record as a utility regulator has been criticized by environmentalists, who have called him overly friendly with utility companies.
“It is an honor to be chosen by President Biden to lead FERC at such a pivotal moment,” Phillips said in a statement Tuesday. “The work we do here at FERC is crucial to ensuring consumers have access to reliable, safe, secure and efficient energy services at reasonable cost. I look forward to continuing to work with my fellow Commissioners and the FERC staff, as well as to prioritize public engagement, in pursuit of our important mission.”
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