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FERC Commissioner and former Chairman Kevin McIntyre dies

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Kevin McIntyre, FERC commissioner and former chairman.
Source: FERC

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Kevin McIntyre died Jan. 2 after having been diagnosed with a brain tumor in the summer of 2017.

The Energy Bar Association confirmed McIntyre's death in a Twitter posting, noting his past membership and participation in association activities.

Despite that diagnosis and subsequent surgery to remove the tumor, McIntyre served as FERC's chairman from the time he joined the agency in December 2017 until he stepped aside from that post in October 2018 following what he described in a letter to President Donald Trump as a "serious health setback."

In that letter, which was dated Oct. 22, 2018, McIntyre said relinquishing the position of chairman and the duties that go with it would allow him to focus on his work as a commissioner while undergoing treatment to address his health issues.

McIntyre in July 2018 acknowledged that he had been facing additional health challenges, including an arm injury sustained in a fall and compression fractures in two vertebrae. Although he stressed at the time that neither those nor his previous struggles had impacted his ability to get FERC's work done, he then missed the agency's September 2018 meeting due to unspecified health issues. McIntyre also was absent from the following monthly meeting, and had not voted on any agency orders since Oct. 17, 2018, when he participated in one (FERC docket CP16-121) authorizing a National Grid PLC subsidiary to upgrade its LNG storage facility in Rhode Island with gas liquefaction capabilities. Then-Commissioner Neil Chatterjee was officially elevated to chair the agency on Oct. 24, 2018.

Before moving to FERC, McIntyre served as co-head of the global energy practice at the Jones Day law firm, where he worked for decades representing clients from both the natural gas and power sectors.

McIntyre's death means FERC once again is split 2-2 along political lines, as Chatterjee and newly seated Commissioner Bernard McNamee are Republicans and Commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Richard Glick are Democrats.

The commission historically has been relatively apolitical, and McIntyre was known during his time as chairman for stressing the importance of the rule of law, adhering to the record and ensuring that politics does not interfere with the work of the agency. McNamee's nomination to FERC raised concerns about possible bias and the role he may have played in crafting Energy Secretary Rick Perry's proposal aimed at propping up financially struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants, however, and some have called for the new commissioner to recuse himself from any matters before FERC related to rates for "fuel-secure" generators.

Chatterjee, who previously served as a key energy adviser to Senate Majority Leader and fellow Kentuckian Mitch McConnell, raised similar alarms when he first joined the agency by actively promoting Perry's proposal before FERC unanimously shot it down as unsupported by the record. Nevertheless, Chatterjee recently told reporters that he has taken the lessons offered by McIntyre to heart and vowed to leave his political activist pedigree behind him as he leads FERC going forward. And McNamee during his Senate confirmation hearing pledged to be an "independent arbiter" if confirmed to FERC.