Former oil and gas executive Ken McQueen was named by EPA on Aug. 5 to head its giant south-central region.
McQueen will lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 6, which spans Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and 66 tribal nations.
As chief of the Dallas-based office, he will be responsible for overseeing the environmental impacts along the southern border, oil and gas wastewater, methane leaks, and some 100 Superfund sites.
McQueen recently was secretary of New Mexico’s for Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department from 2016 to 2018 under former Gov. Susana Martinez (R). In that role, he “worked to streamline rules and regulations,” according to an EPA statement.
WPX Energy VP
Prior to joining the Martinez administration, McQueen was vice president at oil and gas explorer WPX Energy Inc. According to his LinkedIn page, McQueen increased WPX’s oil production, led the company’s entry into horizontal shale drilling, and helped identify and develop the previously unexploited Mancos shale formation, which spans Utah and Colorado.
McQueen didn’t immediately respond to an interview request.
“Ken’s experience in public service and familiarity with natural resource issues make him an excellent choice to lead the Region 6 office,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.
Environmentalists said McQueen was an advocate for fossil fuels.
Mike Eisenfeld, energy and climate program manager at the environmental group San Juan Citizens Alliance, said McQueen is “just very pro-industry.”
“This is a huge step in the wrong direction, and it’s completely irresponsible to be putting people in these positions,” Eisenfeld said. “I think he’s another person in this administration who’s just going to be looking out for the oil and gas industry. That’s his track record.”
Eisenfeld also said McQueen is “at a minimum, wishy-washy” on the science of climate change.
Positions as regional administrators don’t require Senate confirmation.