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Senate Panel Votes Out Interior, DOE Nominations

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Tuesday voted out two nominations for high-ranking appointments to the Department of Interior and the Department of Energy (DOE).

The nominations passed by voice vote and are on their way to the Senate floor, but they're unlikely to be voted on by the full Senate until Congress ends the stalemate over the federal government shutdown and resolves the looming debt ceiling crisis.

The Senate panel cleared the nomination of Michael L. Connor, currently commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, to be the Deputy Secretary of Interior, succeeding David Hayes. Prior to becoming commissioner in 2009, Connor served as counsel to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where he managed legislation for both the Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Geological Survey.

He received his law degree from the University of Colorado Law School and a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from New Mexico State University.

The committee also favorably reported the nomination of Elizabeth M. Robinson to be the undersecretary of energy, filling one of the top positions under Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Prior to coming to DOE, Robinson was chief financial officer at NASA, and a former White House budget officer.

Connor's and Robinson's energy nominations were overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the appointment of Ron Binz as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Binz last week asked President Obama to withdraw his nomination when he realized that the majority of members on the Senate Energy Committee (Republicans and Democrats) did not intend to favorably report his nomination to the Senate floor (see Daily GPIOct. 2). 

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