JEFFERSON CITY • Gov. Eric Greitens has tapped Carol Comer, a former environmental agency director in Indiana under Vice President-elect Mike Pence, to head the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
An environmental lawyer, Comer has served as commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management since August 2015.
In a video announcement, Greitens said that with Comer's leadership in Indiana, the state "made it easier for business to get permits, they improved their air quality, they protected their fish and wildlife, all while encouraging job growth."
Greitens has made regulatory reform a priority for his first year in office, saying excess rules and bloated bureaucracy make it difficult to do business in Missouri.
Comer, who stood beside Greitens for the announcement, said in Indiana, the Department of Economic Development partnered with the Department of Environmental Management to create jobs and attract businesses and investment.
"I'm looking forward to during the same thing in Missouri, so that we can protect the air and the land and the water quality, but still encourage economic growth, so that everybody prospers," she said.
It's an approach likely to be applauded by Republican lawmakers, who have long had an antagonistic relationship with the DNR. They contend that the department has inhibited job creation efforts and could do more to help businesses comply with rules, rather than penalize them.
The department also oversees state land purchases, a process some state lawmakers say lacked transparency in the previous administration.
Former Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, argued that expanding the park system draws more tourism to the state. But Republican legislators have complained that Nixon too often used state settlement money to quietly buy parkland.
Comer was rumored to have been on President-elect Donald Trump's shortlist to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, before Greitens' announcement on Wednesday. Pence, her former boss, campaigned for Greitens during his gubernatorial bid.