In a press release issued last Thursday, January 30, 2014, the White House announced that the President intends to nominate the current Director of the Office of Enforcement of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Norman Bay, to become the next FERC Chairman. This is the President’s second attempt to fill the seat that former Chairman Jon Wellinghoff vacated last November. As many will recall, nominee Ron Binz withdrew his candidacy in October following what he described as partisan “blood sport” over his confirmation.1 After Mr. Binz withdrew his nomination and Cheryl LaFleur was subsequently named Acting Chairwoman, there was much speculation about who would be the next nominee and what direction FERC would take under a new Chairperson. Not only is the suspense as to the identity of the nominee over, but Mr. Bay’s nomination also appears to confirm the direction that FERC will take with respect to investigations and enforcement. Assuming Mr. Bay is confirmed, the energy markets are likely to see an increase in enforcement actions and greater coordination between FERC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
Mr. Bay’s background heavily features prosecution, enforcement and advocacy experience, and, as a result, FERC’s increasing focus on oversight and enforcement would likely be redoubled under his watch. Mr. Bay’s impressive resume includes such positions as: Assistant US Attorney in the Criminal Division at the US Attorney’s Office in Washington, DC; Attorney for the Justice Department; Supervisor of the Violent Crimes division of the US Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque, followed by US Attorney for the District of New Mexico (appointed by President Clinton); and most recently, a Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico School of Law, where he taught subjects such as Criminal Law, International Criminal Law, Evidence and National Security Law.
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