Clark confirmed for federal boardTony Clark, the chairman of North Dakota’s Public Service Commission, won U.S. Senate confirmation late Thursday for a spot on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
By: By Dale Wetzel, Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — Tony Clark, the chairman of North Dakota’s Public Service Commission, won U.S. Senate confirmation late Thursday for a spot on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The Washington agency oversees the nation’s electric transmission network and interstate oil and natural gas pipelines. Clark fills an opening on the five-member panel that is reserved for a Republican.
Clark said he would resign his Public Service Commission spot after he is sworn in to his new job, which he said could happen within a few weeks.
“Having the opportunity to have an impact on a national stage in an (energy) area that I think is just tremendously important for the economy of our country, and for American consumers, is very exciting,” Clark said.
Clark, 40, was first elected to the Public Service Commission in 2000. He is a former state House member from Fargo and once served as North Dakota’s labor commissioner.
Once Clark resigns, Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple may appoint someone to finish the seven months left on Clark’s term. Jeff Zent, a spokesman for Dalrymple, said Thursday he was not aware of Dalrymple’s intentions.
Clark had already announced he would not seek a third six-year term on the PSC. Republican Randy Christmann, the assistant majority leader in the North Dakota Senate, and Democrat Brad Crabtree are running this fall to succeed him.
Dalrymple cannot appoint Christmann to Clark’s seat because the state Constitution bars the appointment of legislators to state jobs if they were serving when the Legislature voted to raise a job’s pay, as happened last year. North Dakota’s public service commissioners are paid $92,826 annually.
North Dakota’s other two public service commissioners, Republicans Kevin Cramer and Brian Kalk, are both running for the U.S. House.
They are opposing each other for the GOP nomination in the June 12 primary.
The commission regulates electric and gas utilities, telephone companies, coal mining and mine land reclamation, pipeline routes, placement of wind energy facilities, grain elevators and auctioneers. It has 43 employees and a two-year budget of $19.1 million.
President Barack Obama nominated Clark for the FERC job in January.
U.S. Sen. John Hoeven said Thursday night that the Senate had voted to confirm Clark. Clark will succeed Marc Spitzer, a former Arizona utility regulator.
By law, the commission may not have more than three Republican or Democratic members. Spitzer’s departure last December left the panel with one Republican and three Democrats.