President Trump's regional EPA chief in California is suddenly removed from his job

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The Environmental Protection Agency's top official in California was abruptly removed from office Wednesday.

No reason has yet been given for Mike Stoker's dismissal.

In an email sent to staff members of the environment agency's Pacific Southwest regional office, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler wrote, "I would like to thank Mike Stoker for his service to the EPA."

He then added, "I wish him and his family the best in their future endeavors."

Deborah Jordan, the region's deputy administrator, will take over as acting head of Region 9, which includes California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, the Pacific Island Territories and 148 Indian tribes. She has been deputy administrator since 2016. Before that, she worked on Clean Air Act regulatory matters for both EPA headquarters and FRegion 9.

The dismissal was first reported Wednesday evening by BuzzFeed News on Twitter.

Stoker's tenure was mired in controversy. In 2018, a few months after he was appointed regional administrator, a "hotline" complaint was filed with the EPA's inspector general regarding his infrequent visits to the region's main office, in San Francisco.

In March 2019, the EPA's inspector general issued a " management alert. " It showed that Stoker spent only 20-percent of his time in San Francisco, where 90 percent of the staff is based.

Three weeks later, EPA Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson instituted a year-long "pilot program," allowing Stoker to switch his duty base from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Neither Stoker nor EPA representatives could be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

Before taking the regional administrator job, Stoker served as director of government affairs for UnitedAg, one of California's largest agricultural associations. According to his EPA biography, he was also a member of Santa Barbara County's Board of Supervisors from 1986-1994, chairman of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board from 1995-2000, and California deputy secretary of state from 2000-2002.

Stoker was a supporter of former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt before Pruitt resigned amid numerous controversies in 2018. At the time, Stoker called Pruitt's resignation "definitely a little bit different."

"I've been around politics long enough that nothing is a surprise," he said of Pruitt's departure.

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