– Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today applauded the confirmation of Michael L. Connor to serve as the Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior. The U.S. Senate confirmed Connor's nomination, which President Obama announced on July 30, 2013, by a vote of 97 to 0.
“Mike is exactly the right person to help lead this Department – thoughtful, smart, organized and full of energy,” said Jewell. “His wealth of knowledge, experience and collaborative approach to complex challenges will be of great benefit to me and to this Department. Mike is a true public servant, and this new role will tap all of his experiences for the benefit of the American people.”
As Deputy Secretary, Connor is the second highest ranking official at Interior, with statutory responsibility as the Chief Operating Officer to help lead a Department of more than 70,000 employees and an annual budget of about $18 billion. Connor replaces David J. Hayes, who concluded a four-year, successful tenure at the Department in June 2013, accepting a position as Senior Fellow at the Hewlett Foundation and professor at Stanford Law School.
Connor has served as Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation at Interior since 2009, a position he will leave to take on his new responsibilities. As Commissioner, he oversaw the nation's largest water wholesaler and second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the West with 476 dams, 337 reservoirs, and 58 power plants, including Hoover and Grand Coulee Dams. Connor promoted the sustainable use of water to address current and future challenges facing water users throughout the West who are coping with profound drought conditions.
He completed two major agreements with Mexico on the Colorado River, negotiated and implemented five Indian water rights settlements and led negotiations on the California Bay-Delta Conservation Plan. He also directed Reclamation's efforts to expand hydropower generation at existing facilities through efficiency gains and the installation of new units.
From 2001 until 2009, Connor served as Counsel to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and senior advisor to Chairman Bingaman, where he worked on issues related to energy development, land and water management and tribal nations. Connor managed legislation for the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey for the Committee. He also handled Native American issues within the Committee's jurisdiction, helping to resolve a number of key Indian land and water rights settlements.
Prior to the Senate, Connor also served at Interior from 1993 to 2001, first in the Solicitor's Office, and then as Director of the Secretary's Indian Water Rights Office. He received his J.D. from the University of Colorado Law School and Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from New Mexico State University. A New Mexican, Connor currently lives in Maryland with his wife, Shari, and their two children.
Lowell Pimley, Deputy Commissioner of Operations for the Bureau of Reclamation, will serve as the Acting Commissioner until a replacement has been nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Pimley, a civil engineer who joined Reclamation in 1980, was most recently the Director of the Technical Service Center and has spent his career conducting and coordinating planning studies, design and construction support on a variety of water resources and related projects.