Former local elected official and head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Southwest Region Mike Stoker has been appointed by President Donald Trump to serve as the U.S. Representative on the Western Interstate Nuclear Energy Board.
Mr. Stoker, who was dismissed from his EPA duties in February citing “clashes” with leadership, announced the appointment Monday on his Facebook page. The White House nominated the former Santa Barbara County Supervisor for the nuclear board, also known as the Western Interstate Energy Board, late last month. Established in 1970 by Congress, the board coordinates energy issues for some 11 western states and two Candian provinces. The board works alongside the Energy Department and focuses on transporting spent nuclear fuel, as well as other energy related issues, according to its website.
In the social media post, Mr. Stoker included a picture of a letter sent to him by President Trump.
“As the representative of the United States, you will have an opportunity to perform a valuable service to both the States and the Federal Government. You have my continuing support and interest in this undertaking,” President Trump wrote.
Also in the post, Mr. Stoker detailed his exit from the EPA.
“Since my termination as the Administrator for the Southwest Region of the US EPA everyone’s been asking me why? Initially I had no clue. Two weeks after I was terminated I found out it was the leadership at EPA that made the decision,” he wrote. “The White House called and said they wanted me back in the Administration and after looking at options that made sense for me and where I could best serve the President we agreed that being appointed to the WINB and WIEB made the most sense. (I did not want a full time position and sought appointment to a substantial board where I could also be able to join a national law firm in the position Of Counsel.)”
Mr. Stoker added that he may never know the reason behind the EPA leadership’s action and said he was never reprimanded or “told that I should consider doing anything differently” during his time with the agency.
“I know I gave 110% everyday I served to be the best a Regional Administrator for EPA could be,” he wrote. “And I know every action I took, I took being a loyal Presidential appointee taking the action I thought the President would want me to take. (Personally I think it was some of these actions that led leadership to conclude that I exercised more independence than they would like to see in their Regional Administrators.)”
The 63-year-old Carpinteria resident was hired in May 2018 as the head of what is known as Region 9, which includes California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii and the Pacific islands. Upon the announcement that he was being removed from his post, Mr. Stoker issued a letter to Region 9 staff, which stated he wouldn’t reveal the specific details on his ouster while President Trump was still in office.
“Generally speaking I will say I believe too many clashes between myself and leadership in HQ over policy and non-policy items (when I was given advance notice which often was not the case) ultimately played a significant role in the call,” he wrote in the February letter.
During his time with the EPA, Mr. Stoker was criticized for attempting to oversee employees stationed in San Francisco from Los Angeles. Some 93% of the 663 employees within Region 9 were stationed in San Francisco. Mr. Stoker petitioned to have his duty station changed to L.A. and the request was later granted.
In March 2019, the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General investigated a “hotline complaint” about how much time Mr. Stoker was spending away from San Francisco. The office then issued a “Management Alert” that documented how Mr. Stoker spent $43,875 in taxpayer funds on 35 separate trips between May 2018 and February 2019. The report found he spent only 30 out of 145 workdays in San Francisco.
Prior to joining the EPA, Mr. Stoker was the director of government affairs for UnitedAg, one of the states largest agricultural associations. He also served as a member of the Santa Barbara County Supervisors from 1986-1994, chairman of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board from 1995-2000 and California deputy secretary of state from 2000 to 2002.
More recently, Mr. Stoker is known as the person behind the “lock her up” chants in opposition to Hillary Clinton.
He wrote on Facebook that he was “taking solace” that President Trump wants him to continue to serve in his administration.
“I look forward to this new opportunity to deal with energy issues in the western states. And as far as the EPA goes, the leadership at EPA may have taken away the job but they can’t take away the two years that I was given the privilege to work with the most professional, dedicated and passionate people anywhere” he wrote.
“Finally I can assure you that you could not have better people serving this country to assure the mission of the US EPA to protect the public health and environment is accomplished day in and day out. From all the career staff to the politically appointed Regional Administrators and Assistant Administrators in headquarters in DC they are all the best of the best. I wish you all well and say it was such an honor to work with you as your colleague,” Mr. Stoker wrote. “With that you now know everything I know. The past is the past and the next chapter of the future has just begun.
“Stay tuned and stay safe in these extraordinary times.”