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Senate Approves FERC, EIA Nominations

The Senate late Thursday confirmed by voice vote the nominations of Tony Clark and John Norris to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Adam Sieminski to head the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted out the nominations in late April, but they ran into immediate problems in the full Senate."Off and on there have probably been holds on both of them [Clark and Norris]" to block their nominations, said Bill Wicker, spokesman for Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). "Some kind of agreement was reached" Thursday to move forward with the nominations, he noted.

Clark, who had chaired the North Dakota Public Service Commission, will serve out the balance of the term ending June 2016 that was vacated by former Commissioner Marc Spitzer (see NGI, Jan. 30). He joins Commissioner Philip Moeller as the second Republican on the Commission. A FERC spokesman said he did not know when Clark would be sworn in.

During his term at the North Dakota commission, it permitted $5.5 billion in wind, coal, and oil and gas infrastructure since 2000, said energy analyst Christine Tezak of Robert W. Baird & Co. "Clark may bring a helpful upstream, producer state perspective to a commission where electricity issues have dominated for more than a decade. This pro-infrastructure stance is likely to be welcomed by investors concerned about FERC-jurisdictional ROEs [returns on equity] for transmission and pipelines," she said.

Norris will serve a second five-year term ending in 2017. A former board member and chair of the Iowa Utilities Board, Norris first joined the Commission in January 2010 to complete the term of former Chairman Joseph Kelliher (see NGI, Jan. 11, 2010). Norris and Chairman Jon Wellinghoff and Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur make up the Democratic majority on the five-member commission.

Sieminski, who had been chief energy economist for Deutsche Bank, will succeed Acting EIA Administrator Howard Gruenspecht. Prior to serving as chief energy economist, Sieminski was the director and energy strategist for Deutsche Bank's global oil and gas equity team, vice president and senior oil analyst for NatWest Securities, and vice president and oil analyst for Washington Analysis Corp. Sieminski has been a member of the National Petroleum Council since 2006.

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