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Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, Department of the Interior

Brenda Burman has been nominated to be the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. The Bureau of Reclamation is a “water management agency with a Strategic Plan outlining numerous programs, initiatives and activities,” and helps “Western States, Native American Tribes and others meet new water needs and balance the multitude of competing uses of water in the West.”

Brenda Burman is a Capitol Hill staffer and George W. Bush administration veteran turned lobbyist. Burman, who attended Kenyon College for undergrad and the University of Arizona for law school, served stints as a “park ranger at the Grand Canyon and on the trail crew at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico” and later worked as a “private practice natural resources attorney.”

From 2002 to 2005, Burman worked as legislative counsel for Senator Jon Kyl, and frequently took congressional trips paid for by industry groups. In 2005, she left to work at the Interior Department, where she served in high-level positions including Counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, Deputy Commissioner for the Bureau of Reclamation, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science. Leaving the federal government, Burman returned to Arizona, where she went to work as a registered lobbyist and “senior water policy adviser” for the Nature Conservancy.

From 2011 to 2015, Burman worked as the special project manager for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which is “the largest water provider in the country.” Most recently, she worked as the director of water strategy for the Salt River Project, which is the “largest provider of water and power to the Phoenix metropolitan area.”

Sources: [Jeremy Jacobs, “Trump taps Western water veteran to head Reclamation,” Energy & Environment, 06/27/17, “About Us- Mission/Vision,” United States Bureau of Reclamation, accessed 06/07/17, LinkedIn Profile for Brenda Burman, accessed 06/27/17, Jeremy Jacobs, “Ex-Bush official front-runner to lead Reclamation,” Greenwire, 05/10/17, “Alumni News: Brenda Burman (’96) has been appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science,” University of Arizona, 08/21/07, and Bureau of Reclamation, Press Release, 06/07/06]

Special Interests

Nature Conservancy (Protecting Public Lands)

Burman worked as a senior water policy adviser at, and was a registered lobbyist in Arizona for, the Nature Conservancy, a conservation nonprofit.

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Western Energy Supply and Transmission Associates (Resource Development on Public Lands)

When she worked on Capitol Hill, Burman went on four trips that cost a total of $4,518 that were paid for by Western Energy Supply and Transmission Associates, a research and advocacy group representing coal-fired utilities.

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also connected to:

Colorado River Energy Distributors Association (Resource Development on Public Lands)

When she worked on Capitol Hill, Burman went on two trips that cost a total of $1,136 that were paid for by the Colorado River Energy Distributors Association, a group of non-profit energy utilities.

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Nuclear Energy Institute (Resource Development on Public Lands)

When she worked on Capitol Hill, Burman went on a $1,297 trip to Yucca Mountain, Nevada, paid for by the Nuclear Energy Institute, which is the nuclear industry's largest trade group.

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also connected to:

Salt River Project (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Burman worked as the director of water strategy at the Salt River Project, which is the largest provider of water and power to the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area.

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also connected to:

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Resource Development on Public Lands)

Burman worked for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which is the largest water provider in the country.

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also connected to:

Background Information

Previous Employers

Additional Background on Employers of Note:

From 2002 to 2005, when she worked for the federal government, Brenda Burman was paid $366,952 in taxpayer money.

[“Brenda W. Burman, Congressional Staffer – Salary Data,” Legistorm, accessed 06/27/17]

While she worked on Capitol Hill, Brenda Burman went on a total of seven congressional trips, that cost a total of $6,952.

The trips were paid for by industry groups advocating for coal-fired utilities, energy utilities, and the nuclear industry’s “largest trade group.”

Brenda Burman, in 2002, went on a $1,274.38 trip paid for by Western Energy Supply and Transmission Associates to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to “attend [the] 2002 West Associates congressional forum.” Western Energy Supply and Transmission Associates is a “research and advocacy group representing coal-fired utilities.”

[Legistorm Bio for Brenda Burman, accessed 06/27/17, and Editorial, “Bush’s EPA Sells Out,” Roanoke Times, 02/05/05]

Brenda Burman, in 2003, went on a $768.24 trip paid for by Western Energy Supply and Transmission Associates to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to “attend [the] West Associates congressional energy forum.”

[Legistorm Bio for Brenda Burman, accessed 06/27/17]

Brenda Burman, in 2004, went on a $1,362.79 trip paid for by Western Energy Supply and Transmission Associates to Jackson, Wyoming, for “meetings on western energy issues.”

[Legistorm Bio for Brenda Burman, accessed 06/27/17]

Brenda Burman, in 2005, went on a $1,113.21 trip paid for by Western Energy Supply and Transmission Associates to Aspen, Colorado, to “attend [an] energy conference.”

[Legistorm Bio for Brenda Burman, accessed 06/27/17]

Brenda Burman, in 2002, went on a $427.00 trip paid for by the Colorado River Energy Distributors Association to Las Vegas, Nevada, to “attend [the] annual conference of the Colorado River Water Users Association.” The Colorado River Energy Distributors Association is “a group of non-profit energy utilities.”

[Legistorm Bio for Brenda Burman, accessed 06/27/17, and “Water flow experiment begins at Grand Canyon,” Associated Press, 11/19/12]

Brenda Burman, in 2004, went on a $709.32 trip paid for by the Colorado River Energy Distributors Association to Las Vegas, Nevada, to speak at an event.

[Legistorm Bio for Brenda Burman, accessed 06/27/17]

Brenda Burman, in 2005, went on a $1,297.77 to Yucca Mountain, Nevada, paid for by the Nuclear Energy Institute, Inc. The trip was a “fact-finding trip to Yucca Mountain.” The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear industry’s “largest trade group.”

[Legistorm Bio for Brenda Burman, accessed 06/27/17 and Mike Stuckey, “From Senate job to nuclear lobbyist — twice – politics,” NBC News, 03/22/06]

Brenda Burman was a registered lobbyist in the state of Arizona for the Nature Conservancy.

From 2008 to 2011, Brenda Burman worked as “a senior water policy adviser at the Nature Conservancy.” From 2009 to 2012, Burman was a registered lobbyist in Arizona for the state chapter of the Nature Conservancy.

[LinkedIn Profile for Brenda Burman, accessed 06/27/17, Jeremy Jacobs, “Ex-Bush official front-runner to lead Reclamation,” Greenwire, 05/10/17, and Arizona Secretary of State search for Brenda Burman, accessed 06/27/17]

Political Connections

Brenda Burman has made political contributions of at least $1,110, including $500 to former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl and $250 to Arizona Senator Jeff Flake.

Since 2006, Brenda Burman has given at least $1,110 in political contributions. She donated $500 to former Arizona Senator Jon Kyl and $250 to Arizona Senator Jeff Flake.

[CQ Political Moneyline Search for Brenda Burman, accessed 06/27/17]

Other Information

When she worked for the Metropolitan Water District, Brenda Burman was a “major player” in proposals to weaken Endangered Species Act protections in bills regulating how California’s water was managed.

Brenda Burman was a “major player” in negotiations between Metropolitan Water District and Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Jim Costa. The Metropolitan Water District was working with the lawmakers’ offices on “proposals for managing [California’s] water that made it into bills” that passed both the House and Senate in 2014.

The proposals “focused on tweaking the way Endangered Species Act protections are applied in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.” Emails obtained through a public records request revealed that “urban water districts” played an “influential” role in the negotiations.

[Debra Kahn, “DROUGHT: S. Calif. water district exerts heavy influence on legislative negotiations,” Energy & Environment, 03/27/15]