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US Senate confirms new EIA administrator, Interior assistant secretary

Shortly before adjourning for the year, the U.S. Senate approved President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the U.S. Energy Information Administration and his pick for the Department of Interior's assistant secretary for water and science.

The Senate on Dec. 21 confirmed Linda Capuano as administrator of the EIA, the U.S. Department of Energy's energy statistics wing. Capuano is a doctor of philosophy fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy's Center for Energy Studies. Previously, she served as vice president of technology for Marathon Oil Corp. and held leadership positions at Advanced Energy Industries, Inc. and IBM Corp., among other companies.

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Linda Capuano, the Trump administration's pick to lead the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Source: Senate Photo Studio

Capuano has also served on the board of the California ISO and is an associate member of the National Academy of Sciences.

In remarks to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee during a Dec. 5 confirmation hearing, Capuano said she would continue to prioritize EIA work requested by committee members, including analysis of energy and financial markets and energy consumption surveys of commercial and residential buildings.

Capuano also told the committee she was "very committed" to making sure the EIA's data is high-quality, credible and unbiased after a request from Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, that the agency's work remain free of politicization. Among other duties, the EIA models regulatory proposals from agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including for climate rules such as the Clean Power Plan.

Capuano declined to state her views on climate change science, saying taking a position on "such a highly debated topic" would be "inappropriate" given the job for which she was selected. She also promised to address concerns from U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., that the EIA has overestimated oil and gas demand in recent years while underestimating growth in renewable output, including from solar distributed generation.

Capuano said she was aware of the issue and, if appointed, "can commit firmly that... I will be working very closely with the EIA staff to understand the deviations [from actual results] and how to reduce that."

The Senate on Dec. 21 also confirmed Timothy Petty as assistant secretary of the Interior for water and science. Petty held the same position at Interior in an acting capacity under President George W. Bush. More recently, he has served as deputy legislative director and legislative assistant on water, natural resources, science and other issues for U.S. Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho. Petty also worked as a geologist and hydrogeologist in California and Indiana.