Obama picks Senate committee lawyer to lead BuRec

President Obama said March 18 he is nominating Michael Connor, a lawyer for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, to serve as commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation.

Connor has served as counsel to the Senate committee since May 2001, the White House said. In that post, he has negotiated and managed legislation associated with water reclamation, Indian lands, and energy issues. Connor 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.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, expressed his support for the president’s choice for commissioner.

�I’m delighted that President Obama has announced his intent to nominate someone who not only has an outstanding background in water policy, but also has real depth in energy issues,� Bingaman said. �Few people are as good as Mike in working with stakeholders while protecting the public interest.�

Pacific Northwest Region Director Bill McDonald has been serving as acting commissioner since Commissioner Robert Johnson retired in January. (HNN 10/3/06)

BuRec is the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the western United States. Its 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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