U.S. Senator Manchin indicates he will not hold hearing for energy regulator
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia, indicated he will not hold a confirmation hearing to consider President Joe Biden’s re-nomination of top energy regulator Rich Glick, potentially dooming his chances.
Glick, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), needs to be approved by the full Senate for another term.
Manchin took umbrage with comments by Biden days before the midterm elections about shutting coal-fired power plants. “We’re going to be shutting these plants down all across America,” Biden said on Nov. 4.
“The Chairman was not comfortable holding a hearing,” Sam Runyon, a spokesperson for Manchin said in a release. Runyon did not respond to a question about whether Manchin, the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, was refusing to hold a hearing because of Biden’s coal comments.
Manchin’s stance on not having a hearing for Glick was reported by Bloomberg Law.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Manchin the founder and partial owner of a private coal brokerage, Enersystems, has been reluctant to rein in fossil fuels. His support for Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act legislation only came after the legislation’s climate measures were trimmed.
He had blasted FERC earlier this year over proposed scrutiny of greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas terminals, that the agency has since walked back.
While the hearing could still be rescheduled, time is running short before the end of the current Congress. Glick’s term ends when the current Congress adjourns on Jan. 2 or before, and he cannot hold the chairmanship or a seat on the five-member panel after that unless reconfirmed by the full Senate.
The razor-thin Democratic control of the Senate is in question after the Nov. 8 elections and it would be unlikely for a Republican-controlled Congress to approve Glick. Even if the Senate remains at 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris having the tie-breaking vote, a ‘no’ vote from Manchin could doom Glick’s chairmanship. A FERC with only two Republicans and two Democrats could deadlock the panel’s energy policy decisions.
FERC did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Timothy Gardner; editing by Diane Craft)
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