I saw at Radio Iowa that President Barack Obama has nominated important early Iowa supporter John Norris to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He’s well qualified for the job, as you’ll see from his official bio, which I’ve posted after the jump. Not only was Norris chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board from 2005 to 2009, he also handled different positions with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and the Organization of Midwest Independent System Operator States.
Norris has been Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s chief of staff since January, but he requested an appointment on the FERC in November, before Obama had named Vilsack to head the USDA. Although Norris has worked closely with Vilsack before as the governor’s chief of staff, the FERC position seems like a better fit for the more recent focus of Norris’s career.
I’m guessing that FERC commissioners also work less insane hours than chiefs of staff do. Norris and his wife Jackie Norris have three sons under the age of six. Jackie Norris recently was replaced as First Lady Michelle Obama’s chief of staff and will serve as senior adviser to the Corporation on National and Community Service.
LATE UPDATE: The Des Moines Register reported on June 21,
Norris said he always planned to move on from the USDA, because his real goal was a seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an appointment he now has in hand. He’s waiting for Senate confirmation for that position.
Norris said Vilsack asked him to take the USDA job, knowing it would be temporary. He “wanted someone who knew him and someone he trusted to get set up at USDA.”
Norris said he tried to set up a staff that would work together across their various areas of responsibility, avoiding turf wars. “This isn’t a speedboat. It’s a tanker and you have to slowly bring it around,” he said.