Obama names LaFleur acting chair of energy panel

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has named a former utility executive as acting chairwoman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Cheryl LaFleur, who has served on the commission since 2010, replaces Jon Wellinghoff, who stepped down Sunday. Wellinghoff announced his resignation in May, but had stayed on after Obama's nominee to succeed him, Ron Binz, withdrew in the face of strong opposition in Congress.

Wellinghoff's departure means the five-member panel will be left with just four commissioners, two Democrats and two Republicans. FERC is an independent agency that regulates interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil.

LaFleur, a Massachusetts native, said in a statement she was honored to lead the commission as the nation makes substantial changes in its energy supply and infrastructure.

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