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Massey Nomination Sails Through Full Senate at Light Speed

Massey Nomination Sails Through Full Senate at Light Speed

In one of the speediest confirmations ever on Capitol Hill, the Senate on Friday approved by unanimous consent the re-appointment of Commissioner William L. Massey to a second five-year term on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The Senate vote came only one day after his nomination was voted out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and about two weeks after the White House announced its intention to nominate him to another term.

The Senate committee set the pace last week when it sent Massey's nomination to the full Senate for approval immediately following his confirmation hearing on Thursday. Rather than scheduling a business meeting, as is normally done, members of the Senate panel conferred just off the floor and voted by unanimous consent to report his nomination favorably out of committee.

"It's not too surprising that it went this quickly," said Derek Jumper, a spokesman for the committee. Massey was a "non-controversial" candidate and was a sitting commissioner seeking renomination to a second term, he noted.

At the confirmation hearing, which was short and non-confrontational, Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-AR) referred to Massey as "one of the shining lights" at the Commission. During his first term, he took the lead in formulating merger policy at FERC, Bumpers noted. A Democrat, Massey was chief counsel to Bumpers for most of the 1980s. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) called him "another talented person" from Arkansas.

The issues raised at the hearing were not directly related to natural gas. They involved whether FERC has the authority to remove hydroelectric dams, whether the Commission has the authority to order electric transmission companies to relinquish their facilities to independent system operators, whether it should oversee the transmission facilities of the Tennessee Valley Authority and Bonneville Power Administration, criticism of the pace at which FERC moves on electric-related mergers, and repeal of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA).

Massey was first nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate in May 1993. His current term expires June 30th. His second term runs until June 30, 2003.

Susan Parker

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