Blumenthal applauds FERC commissioner's resignation

Nick Rees Jan. 14, 2009, 2:01am

Richard Blumenthal (D)

HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) -- The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Joseph Kelliher, has announced he will resign Jan. 20, drawing praise from Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

"This resignation starts dismantling a fatally flawed FERC -- leadership that is deservedly doomed as we welcome a new and promising administration," Blumenthal, a Democrat, said in a statement.

Under Kelliher's leadership, FERC has been "on a lawless and mindless mission to nearly obliterate state rights, and approve virtually all energy projects at any cost to the environment and ordinary citizens," Blumenthal said.

Kelliher, a Republican, will initially remain as one of five commissioners of the agency, which oversees power grid reliability and wholesale natural gas markets.

No more than three members of the commission may be of the same political party. President-elect Barack Obama will name a new chairman and nominate a new commissioner once Kelliher departs.

Kelliher was part of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force in 2000 that solicited energy industry advice. Critics of the task force have charged that the group's report ignored environmental and consumer advocates while relying heavily on industry views.

"This resignation marks a moment that enables President-elect Obama's administration to restore FERC's true mission: protecting consumers from exploitation by energy companies that provide a basic necessity of modern life," Blumenthal said. "FERC must finally defend consumers from unwise and unjust energy policies that favor industry interests over public interests."

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