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SANTA FE — The Republican governor of New Mexico has appointed former oil and natural gas industry executive Ken McQueen to lead the state’s Energy, Mineral and Natural Resources Department.

Gov. Susana Martinez announced the Cabinet secretary appointment Tuesday in a written statement. She said McQueen brings a valuable background in petroleum engineering to the post and will be in charge of a state energy plan that emphasizes job creation and supporting national efforts toward energy independence.

McQueen previously served as vice president of Tulsa-based natural gas and oil producer WPX Energy. He has managed the company’s assets in the San Juan Basin of northwestern New Mexico and southern Colorado.

Environmentalists greeted the appointment with wariness. Martinez says she is confident McQueen will responsibly manage the state’s natural resources.

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