White House nominates business, utility execs to key DOE positions
- President Trump has been slow to fill positions below the Cabinet level, but nominees to the Department of Energy would bring a heavy tilt toward utility interests and big investment interests onboard if confirmed by the Senate.
- Trump has nominated Mark Menezes to serve as undersecretary at DOE. Currently, Menezes is vice president of federal relations for Berkshire Hathaway Energy, and is a long-time energy lobbyist in Washington D.C.
- Trump has also nominated Paul Dabbar to serve as undersecretary for science at DOE. Dabbar is managing director for mergers and acquisitions for J.P. Morgan, and according to the White House "has over $400 billion in investment experience across all energy sectors including solar, wind, geothermal, distributed-generation, utility, LNG, pipeline, oil & gas, trading, energy technology."
The Energy and Policy Institute dug into Menezes' past lobbying work, including a spreadsheet detailing his lobbying clients over a decade. It's a list that includes Duke, Entergy, Berkshire, Koch, Progress, Southern and other major power sector players.
Berkshire, where he currently works, is currently trying to purchase Oncor Electric through a bid on its bankrupt parent company, Energy Future Holding. And EPI notes that Menezes was also a negotiator who helped develop the 2005 Energy Policy Act, a bipartisan effort that gave boosts to clean energy but also exempted hydraulic fracturing from some oversight.
Dabbar is currently on the DOE's Environmental Management Advisory Board. His supporters say Dabbar's business experience is key to managing the office.
Other nominees include Dan Brouillette to serve as deputy secretary of energy. Brouillette is senior vice president and head of public policy for USAA, a provider of financial services to the military community. He has also worked at Ford Motor Co., and served as chief of staff to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Sen Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), head of the Energy and Natural Resources Commission, has indicated she wants to confirm the nominees before lawmakers leave for the August recess.
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