Obama picks Connor as DOI deputy

President Barack Obama will nominate an Interior Department (DOI) official as deputy secretary to replace David Hayes, who played a key role in promoting renewable energy development on public lands.

The nomination would require US Senate confirmation.

Michael Connor is currently commissioner of DOI’s Bureau of Land Reclamation, which operates 53 hydro power plants in the western US and is the nation’s largest wholesaler of water. 

“Mike will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position after two decades in public service working on energy, conservation and water issues,” says Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

A lawyer and chemical engineer, he has served at DOI from 1993-2001 and 2009 to present. Between those stints he was Counsel to the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The 22-member committee – 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans - will review and then vote on his nomination. If approved, it would go to the Senate floor for a full vote by the 100-member chamber.

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the senior Republican on the committee, quickly praised Connor, improving chances for a smooth approval process.

“I believe his integrity, work ethic and his ability to solve tough resource related issues will make him an asset to the Interior Secretary,” says Murkowski.

Obama has tasked DOI with permitting an additional 10GW of renewable energy projects on public lands by 2020. While most of this new activity will be on lands in western states that DOI manages, it includes offshore wind development on the outer continental shelf.