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Commissioner Massey Serves and Stands and Waits

Commissioner Massey Serves and Stands and Waits

Some in the natural gas industry are growing increasingly uneasy that the re-appointment of William Massey to a second term at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission appears to be stalled at the White House.

The Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA) said it plans to send a letter to President Clinton this week, voicing its support for Massey's renomination and urging the White House to take quick action. Massey's current term expires at the end of this month, but in the event the White House fails to act by then, he could continue to serve under a grace period that would last until the end of the current congressional term.

"He's done a great job. But as we've seen that isn't always a guarantee" of re-appointment, noted NGSA spokeswoman Charlotte LeGates. "So we are strongly supporting his renomination through letters and so forth. I guess if that indicates concern, yeah we're concerned" about his nomination, LeGates told NGI.

At this point, it's not clear whether Massey's renomination simply has been relegated to low priority at the White House, or whether there are other factors at work. Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-AR) has contacted the White House, and is working with it to move Massey's nomination along, Capitol Hill aides said. Massey previously was a member of the senator's staff.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which must approve Massey's renomination, said it hasn't heard a peep from the White House yet. "I don't want to be trite" about his nomination, but "we're still wondering as much if we'll ever hear from the White House on a successor for DOE," said Derek Jumper, a committee press aide. Energy Secretary Federico Pena plans to leave the department at the end of the month.

Deputy Energy Secretary Elizabeth Moler, former chair of FERC, "would naturally be the person to ascend," he noted, but the White House has been "pretty mum" on this, as well as on reports that Bill Richardson, U.N. ambassador to the United States, is being considered as a front-runner for the job

"It doesn't seem that the White House is very concerned about any of their nominees right now," Jumper said. But some in the gas industry are, particularly about Massey. "He is terrifically experienced. He's very good in terms of the analysis of the industry. He really understands why the Commission is there - which is because you're trying to regulate monopolies," said NGSA's LeGates.

The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) doesn't believe the delay means the Massey nomination is in trouble. "The White House is just slow. I guess they're all worried about different things, like Supreme Court appeals," said Lorraine Cross, vice president for regulatory affairs. "We certainly support him," and fully expect him to be renominated, she said.

Susan Parker

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