WASHINGTON, Nov 10 (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia, has indicated he will not hold a confirmation hearing to consider President Joe Biden’s renomination of the top regulator Rich Glick energy, which could jeopardize his chances.
Glick, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), must be endorsed by the full Senate for another term.
Manchin took umbrage at Biden’s comments days before the midterm elections about shutting down coal-fired power plants. “We’re going to shut down these factories all over America,” Biden said Nov. 4.
“The president was not comfortable holding a hearing,” Manchin spokesman Sam Runyon said in a statement. Runyon did not respond to questions 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, founder and partial owner of a private coal brokerage firm, Enersystems, is reluctant to curb fossil fuels. His support for Biden’s inflation-cutting legislation came only after the legislation’s climate measures were rolled back.
He blasted FERC earlier this year over a proposed review of greenhouse gas emissions from gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas terminals, which the agency has since backed down.
While the hearing could still be postponed, time is running out before the end of the current Congress. Glick’s term ends when the current Congress adjourns on or before January 2, and he cannot take the presidency or a seat on the five-member panel after that unless reconfirmed by the entire Senate.
The very thin Democratic control of the Senate is in question after the November 8 election and a Republican-controlled Congress would be unlikely to endorse Glick. Even if the Senate remains 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris having the deciding vote, a “no” vote from Manchin could doom Glick’s presidency. A FERC with just two Republicans and two Democrats could block the panel’s energy policy decisions.
FERC did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Timothy Gardner; editing by Diane Craft)