U.S. Senate confirms Kempthorne to be new Interior secretary

The U.S. Senate confirmed by voice vote May 26 President Bush’s nomination of Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne to be Secretary of the Department of Interior. He succeeds Interior Secretary Gail Norton, who resigned.

The Senate Energy &Natural Resources Committee approved the nomination on May 10, sending it on to the full Senate. Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said the Senate vote reflects the high regard that body has for Kempthorne’s abilities and record. Kempthorne is a former senator.

“He assumes the Interior helm at a critical time,” Domenici said. “We are grappling with the increasingly complex management of resources vital to America’s commerce and prosperity, including energy and water. I look forward to the leadership and ingenuity I am confident Dirk will bring to these issues.”

A governor since 1999, Kempthorne chaired the National Governors Association and Western Governors Association. While in the Senate, he supported increased funding for the Department of Energy’s hydro research and development program to design turbines to be more efficient and less hazardous to fish. Kempthorne also sponsored legislation to reform the Endangered Species Act.

Kempthorne is the 49th secretary of the Interior Department. He is to begin his duties as Interior Secretary following his resignation as governor. Lynn Scarlett has served as acting secretary of the department since Norton’s resignation.

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