Landrieu May Pander To Left On FERC

As the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has been in the works with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the Obama administration on who to choose to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). And though Landrieu says she supports a more centrist candidate, she said she would vote for the left-of-center nominee if it came down to it.

Landrieu, Reid and President Obama are eyeing Norman Bay,the current chairman who Obama, with much support from Reid, nominated to lead the FERC. The three are also looking at acting chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur, but apparently Obama and Reid do not approve of her as much as Landrieu does.

Landrieu indicated, however, that she was willing to proceed on Bay if no deal is reached. She noted former Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., a former energy committee chairman who Landrieu called a mentor, recommended Bay for the post.

“This is not as cut and dry as some people might like to make it out to be,” she said. “Norman Bay is very intelligent and has a good bit of experience — you know, not exactly the experience some people would like — but Pete Domenici’s word goes a long way with me.”

Many Republicans do not find that Bay’s resume qualifies him for the job and think that he should be commissioner before he is nominated to lead the commission. Bay heads the FERC enforcement office.

And even though Reid has complained about LaFleur, Landrieu has had his back every step of the way.

Mr. Reid said that Ms. LaFleur wouldn’t adequately protect consumers from electricity-market manipulation or support building transmission lines for renewable energy. ”I don’t want her as chair,” Mr. Reid said during a recent interview in his Washington office.

Ms. Landrieu maintained that Mr. Reid was not stonewalling.

“Sen. Reid hasn’t insisted on anything,” Ms. Landrieu said. “He has strong feelings about the recommendation that he’s made for Norman Bay, but he is listening to suggestions from all sides.”

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who is looking to unseat Landrieu this November, sent a letter to Landrieu along with the GOP House Delegation to block Bay’s nomination at all costs, saying “We are concerned that Mr. Bay lacks the qualifications to serve on the FERC and that he will simply act as a rubber-stamp for the Administration’s policies.”

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