President Donald Trump has appointed Cheryl LaFleur to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the agency responsible for regulating the nation’s power markets and rendering final decisions on energy infrastructure projects. It is she who will oversee the approval process for natural gas and oil pipelines, which Trump has pledged to streamline and make less regulation-laden.
LaFleur replaces Norman Bay, an Obama appointee who has led the agency since April 2015. During Bay’s tenure, FERC sought to impose stricter regulations and reporting rules in order to prevent abuses and increase market transparency.
However, LaFleur’s appointment indicates that “Trump is hearing congressional Republicans’ complaints about FERC being too heavy handed to the markets,” Katie Bays, an analyst for Height Securities, told Bloomberg. “He’s interested in demonstrating his bona fides that he’s going to be different than Obama.”
Her appointment coincides with the agency’s review of several gas projects proposed by Williams Partners and Energy Transfer Partners. LaFleur, a Democrat, has previously served as both chairman and acting chairman of FERC. Prior to joining the agency, she was acting CEO at national Grid USA.