Friday, June 28, 2013
Cabinet secretary worked successfully on conservation issues, water quality improvement
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Secretary of Environment Gary Sherrer today announced he would step down from his cabinet position by July 1, the end of this fiscal year. Sherrer, a former state representative and a senior administrator at Oklahoma State University, is known by his colleagues as a tireless advocate for Oklahoma’s environmental wellbeing and for rural Oklahoma.
“Gary Sherrer is a strong voice for sensible, common-sense policies that have helped to protect Oklahoma’s environment while also making room for job growth and economic development,” said Governor Mary Fallin. “He has worked well with both Republicans and Democrats and was skilled at achieving consensus among people with diverse interests and agendas. Gary is also a born leader with a passion for service. Whether serving as a combat medic in Vietnam, an administrator at OSU, or a trusted voice in my cabinet, Gary has always been committed to helping others and making the world around him a better place.”
During his time as a cabinet official, Sherrer lead the effort to broker a deal between Oklahoma and the state of Arkansas to protect the quality of the scenic rivers running through both states. In April 2013, Arkansas and Oklahoma signed a joint agreement calling for improved water quality and the creation of a new committee to oversee implementation.
Sherrer has also worked to protect wildlife habitats in Oklahoma while avoiding burdensome regulations and government restrictions that would destroy jobs. Working with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife, Sherrer helped develop the Oklahoma Lesser Prairie Chicken Conservation Plan. Because of these efforts, the lesser prairie chicken has avoided a declaration of “endangered” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The absence of that declaration allows the state to avoid harmful restrictions on agriculture and industry and attests to the strength of the state’s conservation efforts.
Finally, under Sherrer’s leadership, the state has improved the quality of its drinking water and moved the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) back into compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. The improvements in the administration of DEQ facilities will help to protect the health of Oklahomans while also guaranteeing the ability of the state to make and implement policy, rather than the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
In his letter of resignation, Sherrer thanked the governor for the opportunity to serve on her cabinet and said “I believe the state is poised to be a leader in dealing with environmental challenges and is well-positioned to benefit from an increasing regional and national demand for our natural resources. … I want to thank you for the honor and privilege of serving you and the citizens of Oklahoma over the last two years.”
Deputy Secretary of Environment Tyler Powell will assume Sherrer’s duties on an interim basis. Fallin plans on combining the two cabinet positions of secretary of environment and secretary of energy into a new position, secretary of energy and environment. Her administration is currently vetting candidates for the new position.