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Former Oil Spokesman Is Appointed to Lead Critical EPA Office

The Trump administration has officially named Mike Stoker, an attorney and former Santa Barbara County supervisor, to lead the regional Environmental Protection Agency office overseeing California, Arizona, Hawaii, and Nevada.

"Mike Stoker is highly qualified and well-equipped to lead Region 9," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement Friday. "Through his public service and career in law, he understands the environmental challenges facing the region and will bring a wealth of experience and expertise to EPA."

The office has been without a director for two years, but environmentalists, public-health advocates, and California Democrats have serious concerns about Stoker, ranging from the practical question of whether or not the Southern Californian will show up to work at Region 9 headquarters in San Francisco to deeper questions about his history as a spokesman for Greka Oil & Gas Inc. (one of the most negligent oil operators in the state, as Pacific Standard recently reported).

"Michael Stoker was a mouthpiece for one of the most reckless and spill-prone oil companies in the nation," Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute, said in a statement. "He'll be a convenient foot soldier for Trump's polluter-friendly EPA, and the people and wildlife of the Pacific Southwest will suffer for it."