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Columbia Basin Bulletin 3/17/09

* Obama Announces Nomination For New Bureau Of Reclamation Commissioner

President Obama announced this week that he intends to nominate Michael L. Connor as Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Connor has more than 15 years of experience in the public sector, including having served as Counsel to the U.S. Senate and Natural Resources Committee since May 2001.

At the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee, Connor has managed legislation for both the Bureau and the U.S. Geological Survey, developed water resources legislation and handled Native American issues that are within the Energy Committee's jurisdiction.

From 1993 to 2001, Connor served in the Department of the Interior, including as deputy director and then director of the Secretary's Indian Water Rights Office from 1998 to 2001. In this capacity, Connor represented the Secretary of the Interior in negotiations with Indian tribes, state representatives, and private water users to secure water rights settlements consistent with the federal trust responsibility to tribes.

Before joining the Secretary's Office, he was employed with the Interior Solicitor's Office in Washington, DC and in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He began his Interior career in the Solicitor's Honors Program in 1993.

Connor received his law degree from the University of Colorado School of Law, and is admitted to the bars of Colorado and New Mexico. He previously received a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from New Mexico State University and worked for General Electric.

The agency he will lead if confirmed by the Senate is a water management agency and the largest wholesale provider of water in the country. It brings water to more than 31 million people, and provides one out of five Western farmers with irrigation water for farmland that produces much of the nation's produce.

Reclamation is also the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the western United States with 58 power plants.

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