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Energy

Trump replaces Republican head of energy regulatory panel who supports carbon markets

WASHINGTON, Nov 6 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump demoted Neil Chatterjee, the Republican head of a U.S. energy regulation panel, Chatterjee wrote on Twitter late on Thursday, after he had promoted the use of carbon markets to curb climate change.

Trump replaced Chatterjee, the former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, with fellow Republican James Danly, who had been a commissioner.

Chatterjee’s term was due to end on June 30 next year. Should Democratic candidate Joe Biden become president, he would likely quickly name a Democratic FERC chair.

Danly said in a statement that Chatterjee had left his mark on FERC by brokering an agreement on terminals for natural gas exports and taking other actions to help “secure our American energy independence.”

FERC had no comment other than to confirm that Trump named Danly as chairman. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Chatterjee once worked on pro-fossil-fuel policies when he was an aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of coal-producing Kentucky.

Recently Chatterjee had promoted a price on carbon emissions, an idea backed by many former Republican politicians and leading companies. Carbon markets have struggled to gain support in the U.S. Congress and in the administration of Trump, who doubts climate science and wants to cut costs on coal, oil and natural gas.

FERC, an independent panel of the Energy Department, regulates the transmission of electricity and natural gas across states and reviews large energy projects. It does not have the power to put a price on carbon emissions.

On Oct. 15 FERC issued a proposed policy statement here on integration of carbon pricing determined by U.S. states. In it, Chatterjee said carbon pricing is an "important market-based tool that has wide support from across sectors." It drew a partial dissent from Danly.

Chatterjee said on Twitter he would serve out the rest of his term as a commissioner. He told the Washington Examiner that his demotion was “perhaps” because he has supported carbon markets and that if the demotion was retribution, he was proud of his independence.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington Editing by Matthew Lewis

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