President Trump has nominated industry adviser and lawyer Kevin McIntyre to lead the nation's top energy watchdog, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The White House announced its intention to nominate McIntyre Thursday evening, even as a number of Trump's other nominees await votes on the Senate floor to be confirmed.
McIntyre has been in the running for a job on the commission for months. The commission was forced to stop all regulatory decisions because of a lack of quorum that has lasted five months.
The FERC is made up of five members, two Republicans and two Democrats, and the chairman shares the same party as the president. Currently, there is only one member on the commission, Democrat Cheryl LaFleur, who was appointed by Trump to lead the body as it's restocked with commissioners. That forced President Obama's chairman, Norman Bay, to immediately announce his resignation in February, which left the commission without a quorum after both Republicans had already left due to expired terms.
Two of Trump's Republican commissioners, Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson, are awaiting to be voted on by the Senate. They were passed out of the energy committee early last month. Trump also nominated Richard Glick to replace Democratic Commissioner Colette Honorable, who stepped down on June 30. Glick hasn't had a hearing yet in Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the first step toward confirmation.
Nevertheless, the natural gas industry praised Trump's choice in McIntyre on Friday, and said his leadership will bolster the president's energy agenda. The FERC approves and regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil. It also has a key role in approving liquefied natural gas terminals used to export the fuel abroad, which Trump touts often as a key part of his economic growth agenda.
"Restoring a quorum at FERC is essential to the LNG approval process, and we hope that Kevin McIntyre and the rest of the nominees will have their floor vote as soon as possible," said Charlie Riedl, executive director of the Center for LNG.
"Kevin McIntyre has years of experience in energy expertise and we hope that the Senate will move quickly to consider his nomination, along with Neil Chatterjee, Richard Glick, and Rob Powelson," said Dena Wiggins, president and CEO of the Natural Gas Supply Association. "FERC has lacked a quorum since February and the billions of dollars of investment and thousands of job opportunities in the U.S. continue to be sidelined by a lack of a quorum at FERC. It is essential that the nominees be given the opportunity to be approved as quickly as possible."