From the get-go, elected officials and environmentalists criticized Stoker as the Trump administration’s choice to run the regulatory office. He publicly doubted the scientific consensus around man-made climate change and had previous ties to the oil and gas industry.
“Californians will not miss Mike Stoker, a climate skeptic and former oil lobbyist who spent tens of thousands of dollars on taxpayer-funded travel,” Rep. Anna Eshoo, of Palo Alto, said in an emailed statement. “My constituents and all Californians need an EPA administrator who day in and day out is dedicated to promoting clean air, clean water and addressing climate change."
Environmentalists protested his appointment when he took the job in 2018, and celebrated his abrupt dismissal less than two years later.
“Stoker’s departure is good news, but this oil industry ally should never have been in charge of protecting our environment,” said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity.
On the job, he received fierce criticism from EPA lawyers, watchdog groups and Sen. Dianne Feinstein for managing a San Francisco-based staff of hundreds from his home city of Los Angeles.
Last March, the EPA’s inspector general documented what it called a pattern of Stoker’s taxpayer-funded travel.
From the San Francisco Chronicle story:
“In March 2019, the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General investigated a ‘hotline complaint’ about how much time Stoker was spending away from San Francisco and ‘his excessive number of trips.’
The office issued a ‘Management Alert’ that documented how he spent $43,875 in taxpayer funds on 35 separate trips between May 2018 and February 2019, including two trips to Hawaii, one to Japan and another to Saipan, in the Mariana Islands. The report, which did not reach any conclusions about the propriety of his travel, said he spent only 30 out of 145 workdays in San Francisco.”
Shortly after he became the region’s top EPA regulator, Stoker told KQED’s Danielle Venton that his priority was to clean up sewage at the border between the U.S. and Mexico.