Trump Close to Announcing FERC Nominees, New Chair, Reports Say
President Trump reportedly plans to nominate at least two, but possibly three, individuals to FERC in a long-anticipated move that would restore the Commission’s quorum and allow it to continue with its work, including the approval of oil and natural gas pipelines.
According to reports, Trump plans to nominate Kevin McIntyre, an attorney with law firm Jones Day, to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and install him as the new chairman. McIntyre currently serves as co-head of the firm’s global energy practice.
Reports also identified Neil Chatterjee, a longtime energy policy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), as a possible FERC nominee.
There were conflicting reports of whether Trump plans to name a third nominee. Some reports identified Robert Powelson, a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), as one potential candidate. Other reports did not include Powelson. In a story published online Wednesday, E&E Newsmentioned Patrick McCormick, chief counsel for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Ellen Nowak, chairwoman of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC), as possible nominees.
FERC has been without a quorum since last month’s departure of Norman Bay, who had served as the Commission’s chairman before announcing his resignation in January. President Trump then named Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur to serve as acting chairman. A flurry of activity took place before Bay’s last day on Feb. 3, but several major natural gas pipeline projects did not win last-minute approval.
New FERC commissioners must be confirmed by the Senate.
Lawmakers in Congress have sent several letters to Trump, urging him to make nominations to FERC. The most recent letter, sent Wednesday, was signed by 16 Senate Democrats, including Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the ranking member of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
House Democrats sent two similar letters to Trump last month, both on Feb. 22. The first letter had 14 signatories, while a second had 92.
According to a profile posted on Jones Day’s website, McIntyre received his bachelor’s degree and graduated magna cum laude from San Diego State University in 1983. He earned his law degree from Georgetown University in 1988. The profile says that during his tenure at the firm, McIntyre represented energy companies “in a wide range of settings, principally relating to governmental regulation of energy markets, electric and natural gas utilities, and oil and gas pipelines.” He also has experience “in utility and pipeline rate litigation, utility mergers and acquisitions, and negotiation and drafting of energy contracts.”
According to Concordia, a non-partisan, non-profit organization focused on developing public-private partnerships, Chatterjee is a graduate of St. Lawrence University and the University of Cincinnati College of Law. As an adviser to McConnell, Chatterjee serves as the majority leader’s liaison for three Senate committees: Energy and Natural Resources, Environment and Public Works, and Agriculture, Forestry and Nutrition.
“Over the years [Chatterjee] has played an integral role in the passage of major highway and farm policy and he’s 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,” Concordia said in a profile of Chatterjee on its website.
Powelson has served on the Pennsylvania PUC since 2008 at the request of both Democratic and Republican governors. He was first nominated by Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, in 2008 to fill the remainder of an unexpired term. Rendell re-nominated him to serve a five-year term in 2009. Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, appointed him PUC chairman in 2011, and he held the top post until May 2015. Corbett nominated Powelson to another five-year term in 2015. That term expires in 2019.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, picked McCormick to serve as the committee’s special counsel in 2011. McCormick previously served as a partner in the law firm Hunton & Williams LLP and led the firm’s regulated markets and energy infrastructure practice from its office in Washington, DC.
Nowak was first appointed to the Wisconsin PSC by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2011. She was reconfirmed to a new, six-year term beginning in March 2013 and was named chairman of the PSC in March 2015.
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