WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump has nominated energy lawyer Kevin McIntyre to chair the vacancy-plagued commission that oversees the nation's power grid and natural gas pipelines.
Only one commissioner currently serves on the five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, leaving it without a quorum and unable to make decisions on interstate pipelines and other projects worth billions of dollars.
If confirmed by the Senate, McIntyre, a Republican, would lead the five-member panel. Trump has nominated Republicans Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson to the commission and has said he intends to nominate Democrat Richard Glick.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has approved the two GOP nominees, but no vote has been scheduled in the Senate. Glick has not been formally nominated, but he is likely to be paired with McIntyre for Senate consideration.
McIntyre is co-head of global energy at Jones Day, a prominent Washington firm that has provided a steady stream of lawyers to the Trump administration, including White House counsel Don McGahn. McIntyre has represented a range of energy suppliers before FERC, including suppliers of natural gas, oil, hydropower and wind power.
If confirmed, he would replace Democrat Cheryl LaFleur, who has been the panel's acting chair since January. LaFleur is expected to remain on the commission.
Trump has promised to usher in a "golden era of American energy" and has outlined a series of initiatives aimed at boosting energy production and exports and creating thousands of jobs.
The FERC vacancies hobble the agency's ability to make decisions and threaten to undermine Trump's promise of U.S. "energy dominance" in the global market. More than a dozen major projects and utility mergers have been in regulatory limbo for months, including the $2 billion Nexus pipeline in Ohio and Michigan; the $1 billion PennEast pipeline in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; and the $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.