Trump nominates Republican energy lawyer McIntyre to head FERC
- President Trump on Thursday nominated energy lawyer Kevin McIntyre to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. McIntyre, a Republican, leads the energy practice at Cleveland law firm Jones Day.
- McIntyre is Trump's fourth FERC pick, following the nominations of fellow Republicans Neil Chatterjee, a Senate aide, and Robert Powelson, a Pennsylvania utility regulator. Democratic Senate aide Richard Glick is also expected to be named to the agency, but has not been formally nominated.
- FERC currently has only one sitting regulator, acting Chair Cheryl LaFleur, and has been without a quorum since February. LaFleur would remain on the commission but vacate her position as commission chair if McIntyre is confirmed to the post.
Trump's nomination of McIntrye was not unexpected. Media reports have circulated for months that the Jones Day lawyer would be named to head the federal energy agency. What's less sure is when he and his fellow nominees will take their seats.
FERC has been without a quorum and unable to make decisions for nearly six months, frustrating pipeline developers who say billions of dollars in assets are held up in the permitting process.
The Senate energy committee has already advanced Chatterjee and Powelson's nominations, but those discussions have been tabled in favor of healthcare negotiations, and Senate leaders just cut their August recess two weeks short to continue those talks.
In McIntyre, FERC would get a business-oriented chair with a diverse practice background. At Jones Day, he represented Exelon and natural gas companies before FERC, advised on transmission rate cases, and worked on a number of energy acquisition cases.
If confirmed, McIntyre would join a slew of other Jones Day lawyers in the Trump administration. So far, 14 lawyers from the firm have been named to federal posts, including Donald McGahn, who is now White House counsel.
The nominations are likely to please utilities and infrastructure developers, who favor a pro-business FERC, and disappoint environmentalists, who want to see the agency consider more ecological concerns in evaluating energy projects.
A coalition of 130 green groups, Bloomberg notes, have vowed to oppose any nominations to the agency, saying it is a "rubber stamp" for pipeline and other projects.
That critique is unlikely to prevent the nominations from going through. On Wednesday, 25 business groups pressured the Senate to quickly confirm the nominees, saying in a letter that the lack of a quorum is "threatening jobs, investments, economic growth, America's environment and our energy security." And in March, more than a dozen Senate Democrats, including the ranking member on the energy committee, sent a letter to Trump calling on him to "act to restore the quorum" at FERC.
The nomination process could take months. E&E notes it may face further delays if Democrats require Glick to be named to the agency alongside the GOP appointees. No more than three regulators of the five-member agency can be from the same political party.
Follow Gavin Bade on Twitter