As the nation had their collective eyes on the results trickling in on the general election results President Donald Trump Nov. 5 quietly replaced Indian American Neil Chatterjee from his Federal Energy Regulatory Commission post.
Chatterjee tweeted that he was no longer the committee chairman, saying Trump, the outgoing president, replaced him with fellow Republican James Danly.
“It’s been the honor of a lifetime to serve as @FERC Chairman. I want to congratulate my colleague and friend James Danly who @POTUS has named as Chairman. We’ve got more work to do & I look forward to continuing to serve out my term as Commissioner,” Chatterjee’s tweet said.
The move comes just weeks after Chatterjee and the agency began clearing the way for regional power administrators to put a price on carbon dioxide emissions, the main contributor to global warming, an MSN report said.
The idea of a carbon tax has been discussed for decades and has support across the political spectrum. Many economists say it would be one of the most efficient ways to encourage polluters to cut the amount of greenhouse gases they generate, according to the report.
Chatterjee, a Republican, was appointed by Trump in 2017 to a five-year term on the FERC, an independent commission. Although often a supporter of fossil fuels, he took steps toward allowing electric-grid operators to implement carbon pricing set up by states, the report noted.
And during his tenure, the FERC opened up electricity markets to rooftop solar panels and storage systems for solar, wind and other green energy, it said.
In an interview, Chatterjee said he thinks his removal from the post could be because his recent actions “aggravated somebody at the White House, and they make the switch.”
“If that’s the case, that’s being demoted for my independence,” he said in the report. “I’m quite proud of that, and will wear it as a badge of honor.”
Chatterjee also speculated that he may have been demoted because he ran workplace diversity trainings, the kind that Trump had banned through an executive order in September, it said.
The White House declined to comment to MSN.
Thehill.com reported: “It’s been a difficult few days. I have dedicated almost the entirety of my professional career to public service. I am a deeply flawed person. I know for certain I have not always made the right decision. But I can honestly say that I tried to get it right to the best of my limited abilities,” Chatterjee wrote.
“My entire family has sacrificed a great deal so that I could have the opportunity to serve my country. I don’t give a f@&! what people think of me. I will be judged by my grandchildren. And as of this moment I am confident that I will be able to look them in the eyes when they ask me where I stood on the most significant issues of this time and be proud. This is not the last you will hear from me. Not even close. Onward.”
Chatterjee, who once served as an energy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., considers carbon pricing a conservative climate solution.
“I made very clear early on in my tenure,” he said in the report, “that I was concerned about climate change and wanted to take concrete steps to mitigate carbon emissions. But I did not believe in heavy-handed regulations, subsidies or mandates.”
In mid-October, he voiced support for a price on carbon, saying it did not “degrade market efficiency” like other anti-pollution regulations. But he added that the FERC would not set a carbon price, leaving that instead to state governments.
Danly, his replacement as chairman, disagreed with the move, calling it “unnecessary and unwise,” the MSN report said.
The commission regulates a broad portfolio of activities, including the electricity grid and interstate natural gas pipelines. Many experts regard the agency, which has a low profile compared to the Environmental Protection Agency and other bureaus, as key to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, it said.
Richard Glick, the lone Democrat on the FERC, praised Chatterjee in a statement for “his willingness to ignore party affiliation and work with me on several key initiatives.” Danly also praised his predecessor’s “lasting impact” on the agency, according to the report.
Some former FERC commissioners hope that if Biden becomes president he will appoint Glick chairman. Glick, whom Trump nominated in 2017, was previously general counsel for the Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where he advised on electricity and renewable energy.
Chatterjee said he is ready to work with any Biden appointees to continue “to squeeze carbon out of the power sector,” without setting deadlines. “I’m much more in favor of this type of market approach than setting a goal,” he said in the report.
Chatterjee said that during his chairmanship, the agency had taken “steps to make sure our markets are protected if states pursue these policies” for pricing carbon. “The key thing we did is signal to stakeholders that such a plan would not be a dead letter at our door,” he added, according to the report.