Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) Thursday said he would join Republicans in voting against former Colorado regulator Ron Binz for FERC chairman, which would sink the nomination if the rest of the votes in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee split along party lines.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the committee’s ranking minority member, set the Republican line Tuesday when she said she could not support Binz (see Daily GPI, Sept. 18). With a committee line-up of 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans, it would take the defection of only one Democrat (Manchin) to throw it into a tie, which is the same as a no vote. The nomination would not make it to the Senate floor.

“I’m not aware of anyone on the Republican side [of the committee] who supports him,” according to a committee spokesman, but he acknowledged that he has not taken a head count.

“Based on Mr. Binz’s record in Colorado, I have grave concerns about how he would regulate our energy sector as the next chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [FERC],” Manchin said. “Mr. Binz’s actions prove that he prioritizes renewables over reliability. His approach of demonizing coal and gas has increased electricity costs for consumers.

“I believe Mr. Binz’s record is unacceptable for a FERC chairman. As a former executive, I truly believe that the president should have the utmost discretion when assembling his team; however, after my conversations with Mr. Binz, I respectfully cannot support his appointment as FERC chairman. I believe that his leadership will threaten the reliability of our grid, [and] irreparably damage the coal industry.”

No vote has been scheduled.