Trump to Fill GOP Seat
By Rich Heidorn Jr.
Former FERC Chairman Kevin J. McIntyre died Wednesday following an 18-month battle with a brain tumor that had sidelined him since last summer.
McIntyre, 58, relinquished the chairmanship Oct. 24 after revealing that he had suffered a “serious setback” in his cancer fight. (See McIntyre Steps Down; Chatterjee Named FERC Chair.)
The chairman’s health had become the subject of increasing speculation since a fall that left him visibly uncomfortable at the commission’s July open meeting.
Change in Appearance
McIntyre seemed healthy when he and fellow nominee Richard Glick testified at their Senate confirmation hearing in September 2017, but he had a shaved head when he was sworn in as chairman three months later.
Last March — as E&E News was about to publish a story detailing his cancer diagnosis — McIntyre explained his appearance, issuing a statement saying he had undergone “successful surgery” for a “relatively small” brain tumor discovered unexpectedly in summer 2017.
“I was advised … that, with the surgery and subsequent treatment behind me, I should expect to be able to maintain my usual active lifestyle, including working full time, and that expectation has proven to be accurate,” he said then.
He appeared healthy in May, when he was the keynote speaker at the Energy Bar Association’s annual meeting. (See “McIntyre Recalls First Day at FERC,” Overheard at EBA Annual Meeting.)
At the July open meeting, however, he wore a sling and appeared uncomfortable after disclosing he had injured his arm and suffered compression fractures in two of his vertebrae in a fall. It was the last meeting he would attend and one of his last public appearances.
In September, Commissioner Neil Chatterjee began FERC’s open meeting by reading a statement in which McIntyre apologized for his absence, saying his “ongoing recovery” prevented him from attending.
At the October meeting, Chatterjee said simply: “Chairman McIntyre is not here. My prayers are with him and his family.”
A week later, McIntyre issued a statement saying he would remain on the commission but would relinquish the chair’s role “and its additional duties so that I can commit myself fully to my work as commissioner, while undergoing the treatment necessary to address my health issues.” However, he did not participate in any orders following his statement.
In their opening remarks at FERC’s last meeting Dec. 20, the commissioners wished McIntyre and his family well for the holidays. But unlike at earlier meetings, none of them offered hopes of him returning to work.
Before relinquishing the chairmanship, McIntyre and the commission approved major orders on energy storage, generator interconnections and transmission rates, and opened an inquiry on gas pipeline licensing. Last January, he led a 5-0 vote rejecting the Department of Energy’s proposed bailout of coal and nuclear generation, instituting a new resilience docket. (See Ailing Chair, Resilience Inquiry Topped FERC News in 2018.)
McIntyre joined FERC after two decades at Jones Day, where he represented energy clients in administrative and appellate litigation, compliance and enforcement matters, and corporate transactions. A graduate of San Diego State University and Georgetown University Law School, he was co-leader of Jones Day’s global energy practice.
He is survived by his wife of 10 years, Jennifer Brosnahan McIntyre, chief counsel for Boeing Defense’s Autonomous Systems unit, and three children, Lizzie, Tommy and Annie. McIntyre’s mother, Alice L. McIntyre, was a retired pastoral counselor, and his father, John R. McIntyre Jr., was a retired Air Force colonel.
McIntyre’s widow released a statement through FERC thanking “the entire FERC family for their hard work every day for the American people and for their faithful support of Kevin during his time at the commission, especially in the last few months.”
“Kevin often said that being chairman of FERC was his ‘dream job’ — he truly loved and believed in the agency, its mission and its people,” she said. “He was always energized by the challenge of leading the agency ‘full steam ahead,’ even when his health faltered. His commitment to his duty, and his faith in the FERC team, never wavered. We will always be grateful for the opportunity, however brief, that Kevin had to serve our country as FERC chairman.”
“Today is a deeply sad day for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and for all those who had the pleasure of knowing Kevin McIntyre both personally and professionally,” Chatterjee, who replaced McIntyre as chairman, said in a statement. “During his tenure at the commission, Kevin exhibited strong leadership and an unmatched knowledge of energy policy and the rule of law. He exemplified what it means to be a true public servant each and every day, no matter the challenges that lie ahead of him.
“In the face of adversity, Kevin’s dedicated faith, devotion to family and sharp wit never faltered. His unwavering strength was — and will continue to be — an inspiration to us all. I will miss the wise guidance of my colleague, the dear camaraderie of my good friend and the frequent banter with my fellow sports fanatic, Kevin.”
Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur said the commission “was very fortunate to have Kevin McIntyre at the helm for as long as he was, and I was honored to serve with him. I particularly appreciated his keen legal judgment, unstinting commitment to the rule of law and deep concern for the organization even in the face of his personal struggles. On a personal level, I appreciated his warm collegiality and ready Irish wit, and was frequently charmed by his Catholic school vocabulary.”
Glick said he got to know McIntyre during the confirmation process. “It did not take long to recognize that Kevin was a man of great intellect and principle. He brought both qualities to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission where, as chair, he guided the commission to bipartisan consensus during a particularly tumultuous time,” Glick said. “But there was much more to Kevin than being a FERC chairman. He was extremely kind and witty. I most enjoyed our conversations about our respective lives. Kevin often spoke glowingly about his wife, Jenny, and their three wonderful children … and never failed to inquire about my family.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also expressed condolences for McIntyre. “As a lawyer, a commissioner and as FERC’s chairman, he always had the utmost respect for the agency and its mission. He was as warm and engaging as he was knowledgeable about the issues that came before him.”
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said McIntyre’s “expansive knowledge and expertise of energy law was a tremendous asset to the commission’s important responsibilities and helped shape U.S. energy policy for years to come.”
John Moore, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Sustainable FERC Project, said McIntyre “led FERC with a steady hand and with an emphasis on preserving open electricity markets and maintaining the independence of the commission. We especially salute his high civic calling.
“As we look to the future, we urge Congress, the administration and the commission itself to preserve both the spirit and letter of fairness and evenhandedness that marked Chairman McIntyre’s tenure,” he added.
“He was smart and kind, and I was glad to have met him, even briefly,” said Katherine Hamilton, former president of the GridWise Alliance.
Successor to be Named
McIntyre’s term would have expired on June 30, 2023. His death leaves FERC with two Democratic and two Republican commissioners, including Bernard McNamee, who joined the commission Dec. 11 but has not yet begun voting on orders.
Once McNamee begins to vote, analysts at ClearView Energy Partners noted Thursday, FERC could face 2-2 deadlocks on votes on “LNG terminals and natural gas pipelines, and potentially on orders that impact the fuel mix of the electric generation sector.”
“It is not clear yet whether Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will try to press [Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell [R-Ky.] and/or the White House to either renominate Cheryl LaFleur — whose term expires on June 30 — or nominate a different Democrat to FERC at the same time as a replacement for McIntyre,” the analysts said. “While conventional wisdom would suggest that pairing a Republican and Democrat (given LaFleur’s expiring term) could smooth the confirmation process, the reality that a simple majority suffices to confirm nominees likely makes this prior custom far less relevant.”