On January 24, 2012, President Obama submitted to the Senate his nomination of North Dakota Public Service Commission (“ND PSC”) Chairman Tony Clark (R) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”). FERC consists of up to five Commissioners who each serve a five-year term.  To avoid any undue political influence, no more than three commissioners may belong to the same political party.  If confirmed, Clark would succeed Marc Spitzer (R), who left one of two Republican seats on the Commission on December 14, 2011. 

Clark has served as a member of the ND PSC since 2000, and Clark was President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (“NARUC”) from November 2010 to November 2011.   Also, prior to being elected President of NARUC, Clark served as Chairman of the North Dakota Republican Party, but he resigned from that position in November 2010.  Before joining the ND PSC, Clark served as a state legislator for District 44 in the North Dakota State House of Representatives and also served as North Dakota’s Labor Commissioner.  Clark focused on a variety of issues while serving as President of NARUC, including pipeline safety.  During his tenure, NARUC sponsored a report on state pipeline safety requirements and initiatives. 

Clark’s Senate confirmation will be undertaken by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.  The Committee will likely hold a hearing on Clark’s nomination and may choose to report the nomination favorably, unfavorably, without recommendation, or take no action at all.  If the Committee votes to report the nomination, then the process will move to the full Senate.  In some instances, one or more Senators may place a “hold” on a nomination, thereby delaying or preventing it from reaching the floor for further action.  The Senate then has three options: confirm, reject, or take no action on the nomination.  Confirmation requires a simple majority vote.  The last three FERC Commissioners have averaged 97 days to confirm.

A copy of the President’s press release is available here.