A senator last week threatened to block the nomination of former Iowa utility regulator John Norris to FERC if it was brought up on the Senate floor for a vote.

Bill Wicker, a spokesman for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, declined to identify the senator who threatened to place a hold on the Norris nomination. “It has nothing to do with Norris personally,” but rather is directed at Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) policies, he said.

Officials from FERC and members of the senator’s staff “are trying to work things out…There are conversations going on,” Wicker said.

The Senate energy panel voted out the nomination of Norris, currently chief of staff for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, earlier this month (see Daily GPI, Oct. 9). If confirmed by the Senate, Norris will be one of three Democrats — the others being Chairman Jon Wellinghoff and Commissioner Suedeen Kelly — on the five-member FERC. Kelly has said she plans to leave FERC when her replacement is confirmed by the Senate, but the White House has not tapped anyone to fill her spot (see Daily GPI, Sept. 22).

In June President Obama announced his intent to nominate Norris, former chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB), for a seat on the Commission (see Daily GPI, June 12).

Norris was a board member and chairman of the IUB from March 2005 until earlier this year. Prior to coming to Washington, DC, Norris was Sen. John Kerry’s (D-MA) Iowa director during Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and had been chief of staff for Vilsack when he was governor of Iowa. Norris also ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2002.

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