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New Mexican picked to head Bureau of Reclamation

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WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama will nominate another New Mexican to the top ranks of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Estevan Lopez, director of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, will be nominated as the next director of the federal Bureau of Reclamation, the White House confirmed to the Journal on Thursday night.

LOPEZ: Will be nominated for Bureau of Reclamation

LOPEZ: Will be nominated for Bureau of Reclamation

The Bureau of Reclamation is the nation’s primary water management agency, the largest water wholesaler in the U.S. and the second-largest producer of hydroelectric power in the western United States, after the Army Corps of Engineers.

Lopez, a New Mexico native and graduate of New Mexico Tech in Socorro, was appointed director of New Mexico’s Interstate Stream Commission by then-Gov. Bill Richardson in January 2003.

He also serves as the deputy state engineer.

Lopez served as Santa Fe county manager from 2001 to 2002.

Lopez has a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and a bachelor of science degree in petroleum engineering from New Mexico Tech. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Lopez’s appointment adds to the ranks of New Mexicans appointed by Obama to high-level positions at the Department of the Interior.

Last week, the U.S. Senate confirmed Michael Connor, a Las Cruces native, as deputy secretary of the Interior Department.

Kevin Washburn, a former UNM Law School dean, is assistant secretary of Indian Affairs, and Hilary Tompkins, a Navajo and former chief counsel for then-Gov. Richardson, is the Interior Department’s chief solicitor.

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