The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a confirmation hearing next Wednesday (March 14) to consider multiple nominations to FERC, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the Interior Department.

The panel will hear testimony from Tony Clark, who currently is chairman of the North Dakota Public Service Commission and is being considered to replace former Republican Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Marc Spitzer, who stepped down in December (see Daily GPI, Jan. 25).

If approved by the full Senate, Clark, a Republican, would join Chairman Jon Wellinghoff and Commissioners Philip Moeller, John Norris and Cheryl LaFleur. Spitzer’s departure left the Commission with three Democrats (Wellinghoff, Norris and LaFleur) and one Republican (Moeller). According to FERC rules, Spitzer’s successor must be a Republican or an independent.

Norris is up for renomination to serve a full five-year term to end mid-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 Daily GPI, Jan. 11, 2010).

The Senate energy panel also will hear testimony from Adam Sieminski, chief energy economist for Deutsche Bank, who has been nominated to be EIA administrator. He would 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. He holds both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s of public administration from Cornell University.

The committee will also consider the nomination of Marcilynn Burke to be an assistant secretary of the Interior. She has been at Interior since 2009, when she was appointed deputy director for policy and programs at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In her new post, she will oversee BLM, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

The committee will not vote on confirmations at the hearing. Rather it will hold a business meeting following the hearing to decide whether to forward the nominations to the full Senate for confirmation.

Holds can be placed on the nominations once they reach the Senate floor but not before that. Bill Wicker, a spokesman for Sen. Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, said the panel didn’t anticipate any holds being imposed to block the nominations. He said if a hold is placed on the nomination of Clark, it also would prevent the nomination of Norris from going forward, and vice versa.

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