Obama Said to Seek Replacement for FERC Nominee Ron Binz

The nomination of Ron Binz to head the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is effectively over and the White House is seeking alternatives, according to a senator who opposed the pick.

“I think he’s gone,” Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, told reporters and editors today at a Bloomberg Government breakfast.

Manchin, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee considering the nomination, said Democrats were told at a caucus meeting yesterday that the White House is vetting other candidates for the job.

The move comes as Senator Tim Scott said yesterday that he would vote against Binz, who was nominated by President Barack Obama. Scott was the last of the 10 Republicans on the 22-member energy committee to declare their opposition to the nomination. Manchin had earlier said he would vote against Binz, a former chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

“The committee is aware that other candidates are being considered to lead FERC,” said Keith Chu, a spokesman for Democrats on the panel led by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. The committee hasn’t scheduled a vote on Binz’s nomination, Chu said by e-mail.

Binz is “a very qualified candidate,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said today. “The Senate ought to act on his nomination.”

Scott’s Vote

Scott, a South Carolina Republican, “is now a ‘no’ vote on the nomination,” Greg Blair, the senator’s spokesman, said yesterday by e-mail.

With half the panel prepared to vote against Binz, he doesn’t have enough support for the committee to recommend him for a full Senate vote, effectively killing the nomination.

Republican senators led by Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the party’s top committee member, lined up against Binz after his Sept. 17 confirmation hearing before the panel. Murkowski told Binz at the hearing she was concerned he wasn’t forthcoming about the extent of his support from lobbyists and public-relations officials.

Others, including Manchin and Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, have said Binz displayed a bias toward renewable fuels at the expense of coal at the Colorado utility commission.

Binz, who has the support of clean-energy groups, said he has been open with the panel about those who have helped him prepare for his nomination. He has also denied being anti-coal.

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