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Kempthorne Approved for Interior; Hearings Slated for FERC Nominees

The U.S. Senate Friday confirmed by voice vote the nomination of former Idaho governor, Dirk Kempthorne, to be Secretary of the Interior. The voice vote occurred immediately following an 85-8 vote to invoke cloture, overriding a hold on the nomination.

Kempthorne replaces former Interior Secretary Gale Norton, who stepped down as head of the department in March following five years with the Bush administration. Kempthorne was first elected governor of Idaho in 1998. The new head of the Interior department served in the U.S. Senate for six years and is well liked on Capitol Hill. Prior to his time in the Senate, he served as mayor of Boise, ID, for seven years.

At his confirmation hearing on May 4, Kempthorne indicated that he would do everything he could to expedite oil and gas permitting on western lands, but he was generally mum on the issue of drilling in the eastern Gulf and other protected waters.

In another action, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a hearing to consider the nominations of Phillip D. Moeller of Washington and Jon Wellinghoff of Nevada to be members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Moeller would pick up a term expiring June 30, 2010, while Wellinghoff would fill in a term expiring June 30, 2008.

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