Senate confirms Connor as Interior’s new deputy secretary

The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved the appointment of Michael L. Connor as the next deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

President Barack Obama nominated Connor for the position in July 2013.

As deputy secretary, Connor is the agency’s second-highest ranking official after Sally Jewell, whose selection as Secretary of the Interior was made official by the Senate this past April.

“Mike is exactly the right person to help lead this department — thoughtful, smart, organized and full of energy,” Jewell said. “His wealth of knowledge, experience and collaborative approach to complex challenges will be of great benefit to me and to this department.”

Connor has served as commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation since May 2009, where he oversaw 476 dams, 337 reservoirs and 58 power plants — most notably, the 2,078-MW Hoover and 6,809-MW Grand Coulee hydropower projects.

During his tenure, Reclamation’s WaterSMART program has used conservation and reuse to increase water supply across the American west by more than 700,000 acre-feet per year. The bureau has added more than 100 MW of new hydroelectric capacity at existing Reclamation facilities, identified an additional 370 MW, and restored thousands of miles of riparian habitat.

Prior to coming to Reclamation, Connor served as legal counsel to the US. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He also assisted with Native American issues under the committee’s jurisdiction.

Connor’s background also includes a prior stint with Interior that lasted from 1993 to 2001, where he worked in the Solicitor’s Office and as director of Interior’s Indian Water Rights Office.

Connor replaces David J. Hayes, who announced his resignation last June after a four-year tenure.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for

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