Senate approves 2 federal energy regulatory nominees, with staffer to lead commission

The Senate has approved two nominees for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under an unusual political deal in which a FERC staff member will be promoted to lead the commission.

The Senate approved the nominations of Cheryl LaFleur and Norman Bay to serve on the five-member panel, which regulates interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil. Bay is currently director of FERC's enforcement office, while LaFleur has served as acting chairwoman since November.

President Barack Obama nominated Bay as commission chairman in January, but Senate Republicans objected, saying he lacked the necessary experience. Under a deal with the White House, senators agreed that LaFleur will stay on acting chairwoman for nine months before Bay takes over as chairman.