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Senate confirms Connor to be BuRec commissioner

The Senate confirmed the nomination May 22, 2009, of Senate committee staff lawyer Michael Connor to serve as commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation.

President Obama announced March 18 he was nominating Connor, a lawyer for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. (HydroWorld 3/20/09) Connor served as counsel to the Senate committee since May 2001.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar hailed the appointment of Connor to lead the Interior Department agency, which is the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the western United States.

“Mike Connor’s extensive experience with water management issues in Congress and the Department of Interior will be invaluable as we work on climate impacts, water efficiency, and conservation and drought mitigation,” Salazar said. “Mike is a dedicated and talented public servant who will strengthen our leadership team as we address the water challenges facing the communities we serve.”

As energy committee counsel, Connor negotiated and managed legislation associated with water reclamation, Indian lands, and energy issues. He also has directed the Senate Water and Power Subcommittee, which has legislative oversight of BuRec and the U.S. Geological Survey, both in the Department of Interior.

From 1993 to 2001, Connor served as Interior’s deputy director, and then directed the department’s Indian Water Rights Office. Connor earned a law degree from the University of Colorado and holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from New Mexico State University.

Pacific Northwest Region Director Bill McDonald has been serving as acting commissioner since Commissioner Robert Johnson retired in January.

BuRec’s 58 hydropower plants annually provide more than 40,000 gigawatt-hours, generating nearly $1 billion in power revenues and producing enough electricity to serve 6 million homes. The agency also is the largest wholesaler of water in the U.S.

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