Murkowski Expresses Support for Interior, FERC Nominees

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired a hearing to consider nominees for the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The nominees are Ms. Katharine MacGregor to be Deputy Secretary of DOI and Mr. James Danly to be a member of FERC.

Murkowski expressed her support for both nominees and spoke to the importance of the positions they have been nominated for.

“Interior is the steward of about 20 percent of all land in the United States, and much of it is in Alaska. That’s why we often refer to Interior as our ‘landlord,’ sometimes not so affectionately. It’s also why we depend on the Department to be our partner, and why we look to ensure that its leadership understands our unique history and needs,” Murkowski said. “Ms. MacGregor has served at Interior from the start of this administration, and has a decade of experience here on Capitol Hill. Her nomination has drawn strong support from a wide range of groups, from the Alaska Federation of Natives to the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.”

Murkowski expressed appreciation for the progress DOI has made in this administration, and discussed the important work still ahead.

“We appreciate all the good work that has been done, but there is still a lot more to do. We need to see much greater progress in lifting decades-old Public Lands Orders. We are still awaiting a revised activity plan for our National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to restore balance in its management. It is critical that the permitting of projects on our North Slope, which we need to refill our Trans-Alaska Pipeline, stay on track. We need forest management reforms to address the threat of wildfire and invasive species. And we need to continue to build safe and secure communities, particularly by addressing the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women,” Murkowski said.

Also before the Committee was Mr. Danly, who is currently FERC’s General Counsel. He is being considered for a seat that has been open for more than 10 months following the tragic passing of former Chairman Kevin McIntyre. Murkowski thanked Mr. Danly for his service to the nation – he completed two tours of duty with the Army in Iraq, where he received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart – and for his willingness to continue serving in a different capacity.

“During Mr. Danly’s time as General Counsel, the Commission has tackled key issues such as energy storage, infrastructure development, and reform of the agency’s regulations under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act,” Murkowski said. “He is well-qualified to be a commissioner, and once he is confirmed, he will be responsible for addressing the many remaining critical issues on FERC’s plate. Among these are grid resilience and capacity market reform, both of which are critical to the reliability of our nation’s electric system.”

Murkowski also spoke to the notion of “pairing” members of FERC, given the seat vacated by former Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur at the end of August.

“I would remind my colleagues that FERC is set up to avoid the need for pairings, that we already paired this seat for the current term in 2017, and that it is not fair to tell the Republican nominee to wait, given that this seat has been open for 10 months and ends a full year earlier than the term for the Democratic seat,” Murkowski said. “When we receive a Democratic nominee, we will hear that nomination as we normally would. If that individual has support to be reported from committee, we will move to report his or her nomination to the full Senate.” 

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video and witness testimony from today’s hearing are available on the committee’s website. Click here and here to view Murkowski’s questions for the nominees.

Related Issues: Energy