Industry trade associations reacted favorably to President Trump’s nomination May 8 of two Republicans to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). If confirmed by the Senate, Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson would bring FERC’s size to three commissioners, giving the important regulatory body a quorum for the first time since February.

“We applaud President Trump for announcing his intent to nominate Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson as FERC commissioners, and we urge the Senate to act expeditiously on these nominations,” said Dan Santa, president and CEO of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America. “The president, and many members of Congress, have stressed the economic importance of developing infrastructure across America. Natural gas pipelines are a form of infrastructure built with private capital, rather than government funds.

“We estimate that about $15 billion of shovel-ready, natural gas pipeline projects are stranded on the sidelines because FERC’s lack of quorum prevents the commission from acting on major energy projects. To build this infrastructure, we need a functioning FERC to act on pending natural gas infrastructure projects of national importance. The nomination of these individuals to serve at FERC will mark a step toward improving the nation’s energy infrastructure,” Santa added.

Matthew Hite, vice president of government affairs for the GPA Midstream Association, rated the nominees as “great picks” and added Chatterjee “is a really smart nominee and has been in, around, and leading energy issues for almost a decade. He gets the issues facing FERC and will be a great addition.” But given the current political divide in Washington, Hite cautioned “getting them through the Senate will still take some time before FERC has a quorum.”

Chatterjee currently serves as the top energy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), where he helps the top Republican coordinate and oversee energy legislation, highway bills and other issues. Previously, Chatterjee was with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. FERC also regulates the electric power industry.

Powelson, the second Trump nominee, has been a member of Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission since 2008. He also served as the commission’s chairman from 2011 to 2015 under former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. He also currently serves as president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

FERC’s current chairwoman is Cheryl LaFleur. The term of Colette Honorable, the only other current commissioner, ends in June and she has announced she will not seek another term but could stay on until her replacement gains approval from the Senate.

The dwindling ranks at FERC created a roadblock to the energy industry, as well as its opponents, since its important decision-making process has largely been stalled. Certain, limited powers were delegated to the commission’s acting chief of staff, Steven Wellner, and his staff, on a temporary basis when the panel lost its quorum. But major issues, including permitting for major gas pipeline projects, have been tabled until the commission regains a quorum.

FERC can only have a maximum of three members from any one political party so at least two Democrats will need to be nominated to the five-member panel.