Trump taps industry lawyer to lead energy commission

Trump taps industry lawyer to lead energy commission
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President Trump is planning to name an energy industry attorney to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Trump announced the pick of Kevin McIntyre for FERC late Thursday. McIntyre is the co-head of the energy practice at Jones Day, a global law firm that has sent numerous attorneys to the Trump administration, including White House counsel Don McGahn.

McIntyre, a Republican, has represented energy industry clients on a number of matters ranging from compliance and enforcement to trading, exports, marketing and more.

If confirmed by the Senate, McIntyre would lead an agency responsible for overseeing the nation’s power grid, approving interstate projects like pipelines and transmission lines and regulating bulk power distribution, among other tasks.

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FERC has since last month had only one commissioner, acting chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur, a Democrat.

The agency has been without its three-commissioner quorum since February, so it has not been able to legally make most major decisions it is charged with. The energy industry has complained that billions of dollars of projects hang in the balance without a quorum at FERC.

But a coalition of more than 130 environmental groups pledged in March to fight any nominees to FERC. Some greens have long complained that FERC acts as a rubber stamp for the energy industry.

Trump has nominated three other commissioners, who, if confirmed, would put the commission at its full five-member size: Republicans Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson and Democrat Robert Glick. Chatterjee and Powelson have both been approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and are awaiting a vote in the full Senate.

Trump is asking the Senate to confirm McIntyre to two terms, stretching his time at FERC out to mid-2023. He is planning to name McIntyre chairman upon confirmation; a commissioner does not need a specific Senate confirmation to be chairman.

FERC has a political balance requirement; no more than three commissioners can come from a particular political party.