U.S. energy regulator on FERC panel dies after bout with cancer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Kevin McIntyre, who served briefly as the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and had been suffering from brain cancer, died on Wednesday, the agency said on Thursday. He was 57.

McIntyre was a lawyer representing clients from energy industries, including natural gas, oil and wind and hydropower, for nearly 30 years before President Donald Trump, a fellow Republican, nominated him in August 2017 to head the five-member commission. Most of McIntyre’s time as a lawyer was spent with the firm Jones Day.

FERC is an independent arm of the Department of Energy that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, oil and gas.

McIntyre’s death leaves the commission with two Republicans and two Democrats, which could lead to deadlocks on issues including pipeline approvals and liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants if members vote on party lines. His seat will remain vacant until the White House nominates and the Senate approves a candidate.

McIntyre, who underwent surgery in 2017 for brain cancer, stepped down from his chairmanship to become a commissioner in October last year after he had sat out two of FERC’s monthly open meetings due to health issues.

Neil Chatterjee, a fellow Republican who succeeded McIntyre as FERC chairman, said he would miss his friend’s guidance and camaraderie. “In the face of adversity, Kevin’s dedicated faith, devotion to family and sharp wit never faltered,” Chatterjee said in a release.

Soon after he became chairman in December, 2017, McIntyre led the agency’s unanimous rejection of Energy Department Secretary Rick Perry’s directive to subsidize aging nuclear and coal plants that were facing competition from plentiful natural gas.

McIntyre’s initiatives at FERC included a proceeding on resilience of the wholesale electricity grid, an inquiry into the commission’s pipeline certification process, and an agreement with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration on the sitting and safety review of LNG facilities, FERC said in a release.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Frances Kerry

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