Trump announces intent to nominate Indian-American to key position

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Indranil Chatterjee (Neil), President Trump’s choice for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the White House announced May 8. (Photo:alumni.stlawu.edu)

President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate an Indian-American to the important government agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Indranil Chatterjee (Neil) of Kentucky, an advisor on energy policy to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is Trump’s choice to be on the FERC, the White House said May 8. Chatterjee, if confirmed by the Senate, will have a four-year term ending June 2021.

“Over the years he has played an integral role in the passage of major energy, highway, and farm legislation,” the White House said about Chatterjee. As McConnell’s advisor, Chatterjee served as the Leader’s liaison to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the Committee on Environment and Public Works and the Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Nutrition. “Over the years he has played an integral role in the passage of major highway and farm policy and he’s been a leader in the energy policy space shepherding efforts to combat cumbersome regulation and most recently working to lift the decades old ban on US crude oil exports,” says a biography on Concordia.net.

Prior to joining Sen. McConnell’s staff in 2009, Chatterjee worked as a Principal in Government Relations for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and as an aide to House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce of Ohio.

He began his career in Washington, D.C. as a Capitol Hill staffer with the House Committee on Ways and Means.

A Lexington, Kentucky native,  is Chatterjee is a graduate of St. Lawrence University and the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Speculation regarding Chatterjee’s nomination began shortly after the Nov. 8 election when Energy & Environment News predicted he would end up becoming FERC chair in 2017. The Nov. 10 report said McConnell had picked Chatterjee for the five-member commission. At that time the FERC had three Democrats, plus two vacant Republican seats.

In the same announcement the White House said Trump intended to nominate Robert F. Powelson of Pennsylvania, to fill the remaining seat on the FERC. Trump may also replace one Democrat to have a Republican majority commission.

Because building infrastructure was a big part of Trump’s campaign promises, EEnews.net  surmised a Chatterjee may end up heading the FERC.

“The FERC chairman is key to setting the agency’s policy tone, and some analysts say FERC is likely to bend further toward industry in a Trump administration,” EEnews speculated.

Chatterjee has in the past been named one of the 25 Most Influential people on Capitol Hill by Congressional Quarterly magazine and as a top energy staffer to watch by National Journal and Energy and Environment Daily.