CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Joe Manchin announced Wednesday that he will not support President Obama's nominee to be the nation's top energy regulator, because of concerns that he would be hostile to coal and natural gas producers.
Manchin's announcement leaves the nominee, Ron Binz, with no clear path to confirmation.
Without Manchin's support, Binz would need the vote of at least one Republican on the Senate Energy Committee -- an unlikely proposition -- in order to progress to a confirmation vote by the full Senate.
Binz, a longtime energy regulator in Colorado, is Obama's nominee to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee.
FERC, an independent agency, regulates interstate transmission and sales of electricity, reviews mergers of electricity companies and monitors energy markets, among other things. FERC does not approve construction of power plants or regulate retail electricity sales.
Manchin said a main reason he would not support Binz is because of Binz's past work in transforming Colorado's coal-fired power plants to natural gas.
"As I looked at Mr. Binz's past performance, we just disagree," Manchin said Wednesday. "He's ideologically in a position where he believes we should be moving more to a renewable market that's not as reliable.
"I'm for an all-in policy," Manchin said.
Binz's nomination has been the subject of a public relations battle that's nearly unprecedented for the normally obscure FERC chairmanship.