With Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana at its helm, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee takes up the nomination of Norman Bay to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this week.
Senate consideration of FERC nominees has historically been an uneventful affair. But that changed last fall when the president's last pick to run the agency—former state utility regulator Ron Binz—went down in flames. Coal-state senators voiced concern that Binz would give preference to clean energy over coal and other fossil fuels. Binz withdrew his nomination amid vocal opposition.
It's unclear whether Bay—the current head of FERC's Office of Enforcement—will face a similar fate. But he is sure to face the same scrutiny. The failed Binz nomination and the upcoming confirmation hearing for Bay have raised questions about the role of the regulatory agency and whether its actions significantly impact or even set policy.
Is the latest presidential nominee to oversee FERC set to stir controversy? Or was the Binz nomination the exception to the rule? What's at stake in a decision about who should oversee the agency and how do politics play into the nomination? What's at stake at FERC?