Incoming Oklahoma governor picks Pruitt ally for top environment post

Incoming Oklahoma governor picks Pruitt ally for top environment post
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Oklahoma Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt (R) on Wednesday tapped a close ally of former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittEPA looks to other statutes to expand scope of coming 'secret science' rule EPA ordered to reconsider New York efforts to tame downwind pollution OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten smog standards amid pressure from green groups | Democrats split on Trump plan to use development funds for nuclear projects| Russian mining giant reports another fuel spill in Arctic MORE to be the state’s top environmental official.

Ken Wagner, senior adviser for regional and state affairs to acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler, joined the EPA last year after he was brought on by Pruitt.

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“Wagner is well respected among environment leaders, energy industry experts, and state regulators in neighboring states,” Stitt said in a Wednesday statement. “He will play a critical role in advising my administration on policy that encourages robust and responsible development of our natural resources, ensures clean air and clear water for all Oklahomans, and makes our state an example for others to follow.”

As secretary of energy and environment, Wagner will oversee numerous state agencies. Gov. Mary Fallin (R) combined the energy and environment roles in 2013. Wagner's position doesn’t require confirmation by state lawmakers.

Wagner has for years worked closely with Pruitt, who resigned from the EPA in July under multiple spending and ethics scandals. The two men were in the same University of Tulsa law school class, and Wagner was treasurer of Pruitt’s political action committee. Both were part owners of an Oklahoma City minor league baseball team.

Pruitt, a former state senator and attorney general in Oklahoma, also had help from Wagner in buying a home from a lobbyist at a discount, The New York Times reported in April. Wagner’s law firm was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts from Pruitt’s office as attorney general, according to the Times.