Trump Said to Pick an Attorney to Lead Federal Energy Agency

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump plans to nominate Jones Day attorney Kevin McIntyre as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an agency charged with overseeing the nation’s power grid and deciding on multibillion-dollar energy projects, people familiar with the situation said.

Trump also plans to name Neil Chatterjee, senior energy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as a member of the commission, said people with knowledge of the picks, asking not to be identified because the information isn’t public. The nominations are subject to confirmation by the Senate.

A new commissioner would restore the quorum that the energy agency needs to make decisions on major energy proposals such as interstate gas pipelines and utility mergers. The commission lost that quorum in February when its former chairman Norman Bay  resigned.

The White House and energy commission declined to comment. McIntyre and Chatterjee didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Waiting for Confirmation

At Jones Day, McIntyre represents companies in cases involving energy markets, utility and oil and gas pipeline regulations, according to the firm’s website. His areas of focus include compliance and enforcement, energy trading, competition issues and energy exports, the website shows.

Chatterjee is no stranger to the energy commission. He’s served as an architect of major energy and environmental policy in the Senate, helping to coordinate attacks against Obama’s Clean Power Plan that requires electricity generators to cut carbon-dioxide emissions. Before joining McConnell’s office, he worked for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Trump’s nominees may be in for a long wait before the appointment takes effect. The confirmation process could take two to three months, according to Brandon Barnes, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

A coalition of more than 130 groups vowed to oppose any nominees, accusing the commission of rubber stamping pipelines and ignoring the potential impact on the environment.

“It is imperative that all Americans voice their opposition to business as usual at FERC and oppose any Trump nominees to the agency,” Todd Larsen, executive co-director of Green America, one of the groups involved, said by email.

Before Bay’s departure last month, the commission rushed to decide on a number of projects including Williams Cos.’s $3 billion Atlantic Sunrise gas expansion project and Energy Transfer Partners LP’s $4.2 billion Rover gas pipeline, both in the Northeast. It also delegated more authority to its staff to help with day-to-day operations.

An independent agency within the U.S. Energy Department, the commission typically has five members who serve five-year terms. Acting chairman Cheryl LaFleur, a Democrat and former utility executive, has been on the commission since 2010. The only other commissioner is Colette Honorable.

With assistance from Ari Natter.To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan N. Crawford in New York at jcrawford47@bloomberg.net ;Jennifer A Dlouhy in Washington at jdlouhy1@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lynn Doan at ldoan6@bloomberg.net Stephen Cunningham, Joe Richter

Copyright 2017 Bloomberg News.

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