Updated: Trump to nominate McIntyre, Chatterjee, Powelson to FERC, reports say

March 9, 2017

Dive Brief:

  • President Trump is expected to nominate energy lawyer Kevin McIntyre, longtime Senate aide Neil Chatterjee, and Pennsylvania utility regulator Robert Powelson to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to media reports.
  • Anonymous sources told Bloomberg this week McIntyre is expected to be nominated to chair the commission, a seat currently occupied by Acting Chairman Cheryl LeFleur, an Obama appointee who would stay on as a commissioner.
  • Senators from both sides of the aisle have called on Trump to nominate officials to FERC, which has been without enough members for a quorum since January, leaving it unable to make major decisions.

Dive Insight:

With nominees confirmed for the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy in recent weeks, the White House is now reportedly turning its attention to FERC.

Kevin McIntyre, a lawyer at the Cleveland energy firm Jones Day, is expected to be nominated to head the commission. McIntyre is no stranger to the agency, having argued cases before the commission on behalf of energy companies.

Neil Chatterjee, a longtime aid to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), is also expected to be named to the commission. Chatterjee has long been involved in crafting conservative environmental policy in the Senate, Bloomberg notes, and helped coordinate efforts to oppose the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s signature climate rule.

And Robert Powelson, a Pennsylvania regulator and president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, is expected to round out Trump’s FERC nominees, according to the Wall Street Journal. Powelson is a steadfast advocate for the expansion of energy infrastructure, particularly gas pipelines.

Reports of the nominations came a day after Greenwire reported McIntyre, Chatterjee and Powelson were in the running for seats, along with Wisconsin regulator Ellen Nowak.

Two well-connected Washington energy lawyers backed up some of the reports, telling Utility Dive Wednesday that they had heard McIntyre and Chatterjee were under consideration as well. The lawyers requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about nomination discussions.

While Bloomberg reports it could be months before the Senate gets around to a confirmation hearing, the two nominees could encounter little opposition.

More than a dozen Senate Democrats, including the ranking member on the energy committee, sent a letter to Trump this week calling on him to “act to restore the quorum” at FERC, which the agency lost in January when then-Chairman Norman Bay stepped down, leaving it unable to render major decisions.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the chair energy committee, said last month that she would personally shepherd FERC nominees through the confirmation process.

Currently, FERC has only two sitting members — LeFleur and Commissioner Colette Honorable, both Democrats. The Commission cannot have more than three members from one political party, and both sitting regulators are expected to stay on after new members are confirmed.