President Donald Trump has nominated Indian American attorney Neil Chatterjee to fill one of the vacancies on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees electricity, natural gas and oil at the national level.
Chatterjee will play a key role in Trump’s program to reshape energy policy, most of which is opposed by environmentalists and Democrats, if his appointment is confirmed by the Senate, reports IANS. He is the second Indian American to be tapped by Trump for a major regulatory position with a controversial mission.
The other is Ajit Pai, current chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, who is spearheading the administration’s drive to end net neutrality, a policy that prevents internet service providers from giving special treatment to preferred web companies.
Chatterjee holds the influential position of energy policy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and helped shape energy legislation. His work backed the senator’s campaign against regulations to restrict use of coal for electricity generation.
A lawyer by training, Chatterjee started as an intern with the House Works and Means Committee. Between his stints on Congressional staff, he has been a lobbyist for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Chatterjee, 40, grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, where his parents worked in cancer research. He is married with two sons and a daughter. Among the issues he will likely deal with are Trump’s plans to allow the construction of the Keystone pipeline to carry crude oil from Canada to Texas, which was stopped by former President Barack Obama, and several gas pipeline projects.
Politico reports that Chatterjee was named along with Rob Powelson, a Pennsylvania regulator, to fill two of the three vacancies in the FERC leadership, according to an official White House statement. If confirmed by the Senate, the new Republican members will take positions that expire in 2021 and 2020, respectively, and restore the agency’s quorum
As energy policy advisor to McConnell, Chatterjee serves as his 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, according to his bio, he has played an integral role in the passage of major highway and farm policy and he has 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 U.S. crude oil exports.
Prior to serving with McConnell, 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 with the House Committee on Ways and Means.
Chatterjee was recently named one of the 25 Most Influential People on Capitol Hill by Congressional Quarterly and has also been named a top energy staffer to watch by National Journal and Energy and Environment Daily. He is a graduate of St. Lawrence University and the University of Cincinnati College of Law.