President Trump announced the nomination of Petty as assistant secretary for water and science Nov. 14. Petty, a hydrogeologist, has a doctorate from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. He has served Risch as deputy legislative director and legislative assistant on issues of water, natural resources, environment, science, technology and telecommunications and space.
The Senate confirmed his nomination Dec. 21.
Petty’s new role oversees the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey.
“Throughout Tim Petty’s eight years of service in my office, he has proven his background in and deep understanding of the complex nexus of water and science,” said Risch. “I can’t imagine a more qualified individual than Tim to support the secretary of the Interior as assistant secretary for water & science.”
Previously, Petty served as acting assistant Interior secretary and deputy assistant secretary for water and science under President George W. Bush.
Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo, who was a water attorney before entering Congress, lauded Petty’s intimate knowledge of Idaho’s water rights.
“Idahoans, and water users in general, are getting the right nominee for Interior,” Crapo said.
Petty’s nomination comes as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke agreed to meet with disgruntled Senate Democrats as a gesture to break the logjam for other Interior appointments including; Brenda Burman for commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. Susan Combs,nominated as assistant Interior secretary for policy, management and budget, Joseph Balash as assistant secretary for land and minerals management, and Ryan Nelson of Idaho Falls, nominated as solicitor.