Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Kelly Picked for Energy Regulatory Commission
Journal Staff and Wire
The White House has announced that President Bush plans to nominate Suedeen Kelly of Albuquerque to a seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The move breaks a deadlock that had stalled nomination of a Republican to the commission.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., had delayed Republican Joe Kelliher's nomination until Bush nominated Kelly, a former chairwoman of the New Mexico Public Utilities Commission and a Democrat backed by Bingaman.
"I've always said that it is important for the West to have a voice on this key panel, and Suedeen is ideally suited for the job," Bingaman said in a statement. "As a Westerner and an expert on energy law, she will bring valuable experience and an important perspective to the work of this commission."
The White House announcement clears the way for the FBI and IRS to do background checks which take about four weeks before any nomination will officially proceed, Kelly told the Journal on Tuesday.
"I am very honored to be under consideration for this position and grateful to both New Mexico senators for supporting me," Kelly said.
The five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates the transmission and sale of electricity, natural gas and oil. The commission is allowed to have only three members from the same political party at once.
If Kelliher had been confirmed, he would have been the third Republican on the panel with one Democrat and one vacant Democratic seat.
So Bingaman, the senior Democrat on the Senate Energy Committee, stalled Kelliher's nomination in the committee until the White House which had said it would nominate Kelly made the selection official.
Bingaman had said that Kelliher was qualified to sit on FERC and supports his nomination. At a committee hearing this week, Bingaman said he plans to support Kelliher's nomination "with the understanding and the expectation that the full Senate will confirm Joe and Suedeen simultaneously."
Kelly graduated from Cornell Law School and was on New Mexico's utility commission, including two years as chairwoman. She now teaches energy and utility law at the University of New Mexico and practices law with an Albuquerque firm.
Staff Writer Rosalie Rayburn contributed to this story.