President Obama (Photo: EPA/Shawn Thew) President Obama (EPA/Shawn Thew/EPA)

Most people have never heard of  the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which labors under the unfortunate acronym “FERC.” That’s because it generally handles interstate electricity rates, oil and gas pipelines and such — not the hot-button environmental stuff.

But a major fight has been brewing for many weeks over President Obama’s nomination of former Colorado utility regulator Ron Binz to chair the five-member commission. An array of energy trade groups are strongly against him, and a key Senate Energy and Commerce Committee Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), has said he won’t vote for him.

Although the White House continues to publicly support him, Energy and Natural Resources spokesman Keith Chu said Thursday: “The committee is aware that other candidates are being considered for FERC.”

Sounds like the towel has been thrown in..