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FERC nominee Bay faces tough questions; LaFleur endorsed by Murkowski


From the May 21, 2014 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published May 21, 2014

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director
Judging from his reception at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing yesterday, Norman Bay, President Obama’s choice to be chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, may be confirmed by the Senate but it won’t be a snap. His fellow nominee, acting Chair Cheryl LaFleur, faced one or two hard questions, but was endorsed for the chairmanship on a permanent basis by the committee’s ranking minority member, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. 

Bay fielded questions from a number of senators about allegations in a May 18 Energy Law Journal article and Wall Street Journal op ed piece that FERC’s Office of Enforcement, which Bay heads, has not provided proper due process to enforcement targets. He said the allegations are not true and that the commission has the final say on opening settlement negotiations and levying penalties. He told Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, that FERC’s policies are consistent with those of other agencies. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., praised the commission’s record on use of its enforcement authority to combat market manipulation.

Murkowski and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., questioned Bay’s relative lack of experience with energy policy issues, particularly in comparison with LaFleur. Murkowski also said she is concerned that Bay would have to recuse himself from many cases that he worked on as head of the Office of Enforcement.

Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, asked both nominees about the commission’s relationship with the Environmental Protection Agency. "I would always speak honestly" if a proposed EPA rule raised reliability issues, LaFleur said. Asked by Portman if he would commit to a review of the cumulative effects of EPA regulations, Bay said he would be willing to discuss the issue with other commissioners if he is confirmed. Murkowski in a closing statement said, "I want to make sure FERC is not rolled over by the EPA." 
 

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Vice President, Integrated Media and Communications
Meena Dayak
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MDayak@publicpower.org

Editorial Director
Robert Varela
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Editor, Public Power Daily
Jeannine Anderson
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