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Trump administration names former oil spokesman who led “lock her up” chants against Hillary Clinton as EPA chief for West Coast

The Trump administration on Friday named Mike Stoker, a Santa Barbara County attorney and former oil company spokesman who some credit with coining the “lock her up!” chants against Hillary Clinton at the Republican Convention in 2016, as the new West Coast head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Stoker will lead the U.S. EPA Region 9 office, which is based in San Francisco. The office oversees a wide variety of subjects, from air pollution fines against oil refineries to drinking water issues and wetlands permits for developers in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada and the Pacific Islands.
“Mike Stoker is highly qualified and well-equipped to lead Region 9,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in a statement. “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 EPA did not respond to requests to make Stoker available for interviews.
Environmentalists blasted the decision on Friday.
“Mike Stoker was a mouthpiece for one of the most reckless and spill-prone oil companies in the nation,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute. “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.”
Added David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay in Oakland: “This appointment is disappointing but not surprising, from a president doing all he can to make America dirty again. Gutting EPA’s budget, and appointing another oil man won’t protect people or wildlife from pollution of our water, air, land.”
Stoker, 62, is a Republican who served on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors from 1986 to 1994, arguing against a ballot measure that would have limited offshore oil drilling. He also served as chairman of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board from 1995 to 2000 under former Gov. Pete Wilson, and California deputy secretary of state from 2000 to 2002 under former Republican Secretary of State Bill Jones.
The Trump administration had difficulty filling the San Francisco EPA director job. According to numerous press reports, many top Republicans did not want to live in high-priced San Francisco, or face certain, relentless battles with environmental groups and Bay Area political leaders.
The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that Stoker has refused to move to the Bay Area, and plans to supervise the EPA office’s roughly 700 enforcement officers, scientists, researchers from a small Los Angeles EPA office. In response, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., wrote a letter to Pruitt asking how Stoker would be able to function as an “absentee” EPA director for the West Coast and what it would cost taxpayers for regular flights and other expenses.
Stoker has run unsuccessfully for Congress and the California Legislature. He was a Trump delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention and was credited in some circles with starting the “lock her up” chant against Clinton from the convention floor.
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Stoker’s most recent job was as government affairs director for UnitedAg, a farm industry trade association based in Irvine. In recent years, he was spokesman for Greka Oil & Gas, a Santa Maria company that has since changed its name to HVI Cat Canyon. In 2011, the company agreed to pay $2 million to settle legal claims from Santa Barbara County officials who said it caused multiple onshore oil spills after failing to adequately maintain its pipelines, drilling rigs and storage facilities in northern Santa Barbara County.
The previous EPA Region 9 administrator, attorney Jared Blumenfeld, was appointed by President Obama. His previous jobs included serving as director of San Francisco’s Department of the Environment, and working for the non-profit Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

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