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February 3, 2014

Obama Appoints Norman Bay to Lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

President Barack Obama has nominated Norman Bay to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”).  Bay currently serves as the Director of Enforcement at FERC, a position he has held since July 2009.

Bay is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Dartmouth College.  Prior to joining FERC Bay was a Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico School. His legal career includes serving in the Department of Justice, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney (District of Columbia and New Mexico) and as a U.S. Attorney in the District of New Mexico during President Bill Clinton’s last year in office.

Bay’s confirmation process may perhaps be less contentious than the President’s first attempt to replace Jon Wellinghoff, the outgoing FERC Chair. The President had earlier nominated Ron Binz, a former Colorado utility regulator,  but Binz withdrew his name from consideration due to several road blocks over his perceived anti fossil-fuel ideology.  Bay does not appear to have a public opinion on this subject but he does share one concern with Binz:  both were nominated to lead FERC while not sitting commissioners, when the tradition has been to replace the Chairman with a currently serving commissioner.  This issue has raised some concerns that Bay may run into opposition at the Senate Energy Committee hearings.  If Bay’s nomination succeeds, he will replace Cheryl A. LaFleur, the Acting FERC Chair.


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