Beware of Biden’s far-left energy nominees

Days ago, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources convened a hearing considering three of President Biden’s nominations to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — a key agency that is responsible for regulating energy projects. This is an unusual circumstance, given that it is rare for a president to offer three nominees for this agency simultaneously.

FERC, once considered a sleepy, matter-of-fact agency, has become politicized by liberal appointees, creating bottlenecks for critical natural gas projects and attempting to force Americans to pay billions of dollars on electric transmission projects to nowhere. Furthermore, green state and federal policies have weakened the reliability of America’s electric grid, meaning the stakes are too high to get these FERC appointments wrong.

As a result, Americans must ask why the Biden administration would choose such an unconventional approach for FERC appointees at this time. With the president’s recently announced ban on exports of liquefied natural gas, it’s clear that the administration has swung sharply to the left on energy issues in an election-year bid to appease green activists. For the most part, these nominations appear to be just one more example of their push to stack the deck in favor of the green left and against the interests of everyday Americans.

That’s why, just like the Supreme Court, it’s worth paying attention to the interpersonal dynamic between these nominees. The Biden administration likely carefully considered how these nominees will work together because this will have a major impact on the nation’s energy policy.

Of the three nominees — Democrat Judy Chang, Democrat David Rosner and Republican Lindsay See — Ms. Chang is by far the most liberal, outspoken, and clear about where she stands. While Ms. See, the Republican nominee, is seen as squarely within the mainstream, Ms. Chang has a long record of extreme and frankly nonsensical statements.

As a former undersecretary of energy and climate solutions for Massachusetts, Ms. Chang developed a reputation as an avowed opponent of natural gas. In recent years, natural gas has become the dominant fuel used to produce electricity in New England. In fact, the region’s lack of adequate infrastructure for natural gas transportation has become a “pressing concern” for energy security.

Despite the region’s critical need for this energy source, she openly argued that low natural gas prices were a bad thing and pushed to end all investments in New England’s natural gas infrastructure. Perhaps most controversially, she called on utility companies to cut power to consumers in periods of high demand.

Meanwhile, Mr. Rosner is largely unknown and has no strong, clear views compared with Ms. Chang. He is seen more as a conventional bureaucrat — recently working as an energy analyst at FERC, and then a detailee to the Senate Energy Committee — than someone with firmly fixed opinions about energy policy.

Given the precarious position of the U.S. electric grid and the need for new natural gas pipelines, it is worth considering if Ms. Chang’s strong and radical stances would pull an unknown Mr. Rosner further left on these issues.

This would not be a new phenomenon. Former Supreme Court Justice David Souter is the prototypical example of this type of public servant. Nominated by President Ronald Reagan and expected to be a more conservative vote, he was moved to the left by his colleagues.

Ultimately, this dynamic moved the Supreme Court to the left on key decisions for decades, especially if President Biden nominates Ms. Chang to be FERC chair. The current crop of FERC nominees likely was deliberately chosen to recreate this dynamic while allowing the administration to appear balanced in its choices.

The Biden administration appears to believe they have found their David Souter in Mr. Rosner. The key question for Senate Republicans, who will vote on these nominees, is whether they will use upcoming hearings to unravel that reality or whether American families and businesses will be left holding the bag once he is confirmed.

This piece originally ran in the Washington Times.