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Former UNM prof confirmed for post

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed former U.S. Attorney and University of New Mexico law professor Norman Bay to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The contentious vote, largely along party lines, was 52-45. Both Democratic New Mexico senators voted for the confirmation.

“The entire Law School community is proud to have Norman Bay as a member,” said David Herring, dean of the UNM Law School. “He is a respected faculty member who drew our community together while he was here. I know that he will be an effective leader in serving on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.”

In 2000, President Clinton nominated Bay to be U.S. attorney for New Mexico, and he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. Previously, he had been an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and New Mexico. He had also worked as a legal adviser in the State Department. At UNM, Bay taught criminal law, evidence, constitutional law and national security law from 2002 to 2009.

He is currently FERC’s enforcement director. The agency regulates the nation’s electrical grid and other energy infrastructure.

The Senate also confirmed Cheryl LaFleur, the acting FERC chairman whom President Obama first nominated in 2010. The vote was 90-7. LaFleur and Bay received a green light from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in June.

During Tuesday’s Senate debate, Sen. Martin Heinrich took to the floor to speak on behalf of Bay’s nomination. He predicted Bay “will be an outstanding member” of the federal agency.

Similarly, Sen. Tom Udall called Bay “a dedicated public servant with demonstrated expertise in the field of energy markets,” and said he was “proud to support his confirmation to address energy challenges in New Mexico and throughout the nation.”

Bay, who was born in 1960, grew up in Albuquerque and is a graduate of Albuquerque Academy. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.