Week ahead: Wait is over for energy commission nominees

Nearly four months after President Obama nominated him, the Senate will start the process next week of considering Norman Bay to be chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The Energy and Natural Resources Committee, led by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), has scheduled a hearing Tuesday to consider the confirmation of Bay, who currently leads FERC’s enforcement efforts. They will also consider the nomination of Cheryl LaFleur, a commissioner since 2010 and the acting chairwoman, for another term.

Bay would replace Jon Wellinghoff, who stepped down in 2013. Obama had originally nominated Ron Binz to be FERC chairman, but he withdrew his name amid strong pushback from congressional supporters of the coal industry.

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Bay has faced opposition from Republicans and others for his role in fighting energy market manipulation, so his path to confirmation won’t be easy.

In the House, jobs in the energy sector will be the focus of two Tuesday hearings.

The Natural Resources Committee’s energy and mineral resources subpanel will hold one on energy jobs in manufacturing. A subpanel of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing of its own focusing on jobs for veterans in energy.

Cynthia Quarterman, administrator of the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration, will testify at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing Tuesday. The hearing in the panel’s pipeline and hazardous materials subcommittee will explore implementation of 2011’s major pipeline safety law, which was enacted after a series of major incidents.

In addition to Quarterman, the panel will hear from representatives of the American Gas Association, the Association of Oil Pipe Lines, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and the Pipeline Safety Trust.

The House Natural Resources’ subcommittee on fisheries, wildlife, oceans and insular affairs will hold a Tuesday hearing about oil and natural gas activities in the wildlife refuge system.

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee will hear Wednesday from Department of Defense officials on the military’s energy security and research programs.

Elsewhere, the Alliance to Save Energy is hosting its annual Energy Efficiency Global Forum on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), a sponsor of the major energy efficiency bill that failed in the Senate last week, will speak Tuesday. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will speak Wednesday.

Brig. Gen Kent Savre, who oversees the Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division, will speak Wednesday at the National Press Club about the Corps’ recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. 

Savre will also cover his division’s efforts to restore beaches impacted by Sandy. The beach recovery program is the largest one that the Army Corps is undertaking.

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) will hold a seminar Thursday about the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the United States rule, which the agency proposed in April in an attempt to clarify its jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. Republicans and business interests have universally blasted the proposal as a regulatory overreach.

The ELI’s event will feature attorneys and officials from the EPA and the Army Corps, which together administer the Clean Water Act.

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute will host a Capitol Hill briefing Thursday about the current and forecast impacts from climate change on the Southeast region, which the federal government said has experienced more expensive natural disasters than any other area in the U.S.

Officials from the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration will speak.