Sen. Murkowski Opposes Nomination of Norman Bay to Lead FERC

June 18, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today voted against appointing Norman Bay to be the next chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Murkowski said Bay lacks the experience and the background in energy policy to lead the independent regulatory agency.

Sen. Murkowski talks about FERC nominee Norman Bay at the 6/18/14 ENR business meeting.(Click for Murkowski’s comments on FERC nominees)

“I do not see what qualifies Norman Bay to be chairman of the commission. He has not served on the commission and does not possess a deep background in the policy areas that FERC is charged with regulating,” Murkowski said. “When we need the best of the best running a commission, it is incumbent on all of us with oversight responsibility to make sure we are putting the best person in that position. I am not convinced that Bay has that experience.”

In addition to Bay’s lack of experience, Murkowski said she is also concerned about his need to possibly recuse himself from more than 40 cases pending before the commission, his knowledge of the impact on reliability of new carbon regulations, and the fairness of the enforcement office under Bay’s leadership.

“Bay’s responses to my questions on any number of important policy issues facing FERC did not provide the level of clarity needed to win my support,” Murkowski said. “Whether it’s where he stands on recusals, the cumulative impact of the EPA’s recent environmental regulations, or FERC’s current and future course his responses were not forthcoming or worse.”

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday marked up the nominations of Bay and current FERC chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur, approving Bay 13-9 and LaFleur 21-1.

Murkowski has repeatedly voiced support for LaFleur’s nomination to a second term on the commission. She has also questioned why the president would demote LaFleur, the commission’s current chairwoman with more than 20 years of experience in the utility industry, to make Bay chairman.  

“I am not interested in the chairman of the FERC doing on-the-job training, particularly when we have a woman – the only woman on the commission – who has been at the helm as the acting chairwoman, and by all reports from both Democrats and Republicans alike, she’s been doing a good job. She has been fair. She has been balanced. She has the temperament that we need. She has the personal qualities of leadership that we look for. She has the experience.”               

Murkowski is the ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.