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A second top state official at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is moving to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regional office in Chicago — an agency that oversees federal regulatory issues in the Midwest, including Wisconsin.

RELATED: Former Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp to take charge of EPA's Midwest regional office

Kurt Thiede, deputy secretary of the DNR, is joining the EPA as chief of staff for Cathy Stepp, the recently appointed regional administrator of the environmental enforcement agency.

Thiede was appointed deputy DNR secretary in March 2015 by Republican Gov. Scott Walker and has worked at the state agency since 1999 in a variety of positions. He told fellow employees in a memo Monday that one of his goals had been to change the perception that the DNR was a regulatory agency to be feared.

The move of Stepp and now Thiede to the EPA comes at a time when Foxconn Technology Group has started to submit environmental permit applications to the DNR for a massive industrial complex in Racine County.

The Foxconn project is likely to require some federal environmental reviews or oversight.

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Foxconn is planning to construct a $10 billion flat-screen plant in Mount Pleasant. The Taiwan company has already won exemptions from some state environmental rules as part of a state financial incentive package. 

The EPA said earlier this month that Stepp has stepped aside from involvement in two ongoing regulatory cases in Wisconsin because of previous ties when she was at the DNR.

RELATED: EPA regional chief Cathy Stepp will not be involved in two Wisconsin cases with ties to DNR

Those two cases involve pollution problems at barrel refurbishing plants in St. Francis, Milwaukee and Oak Creek and a longstanding EPA review of the DNR’s water regulation program.

Asked if Stepp would recuse herself in other cases, an EPA spokeswoman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Feb. 6 that Stepp is “consulting with EPA ethics officials to determine which, if any, additional matters she should recuse herself from.” The spokeswoman said Monday she had no additional details. 

As for Thiede, the spokeswoman said, "Mr. Thiede will consult with EPA ethics officials to determine which matters he should recuse himself from."

Under the Walker administration, Thiede has played an influential role as an experienced agency insider in a department whose top managers mostly came from the outside.

In a memo to DNR employees on Monday, Thiede said:

"When I started to take on leadership roles at the agency I wanted to make sure we began to change the narrative that the DNR was something to be feared, avoided, or maligned.

"I wanted the agency to be viewed as a partner, a resource, and I feel like we have made great strides in this area. I understand that by the nature of our work we can’t make everyone happy all the time, but we can change perceptions and make sure that any experience with the agency is professional, respectful and enlightening."

Stepp, a Republican and former builder and state senator from Racine County, oversaw all environmental regulations in Wisconsin as secretary from 2011 until August.

She left the DNR in August for a post in the Trump administration in the Kansas City office of the EPA. On Dec. 19, she was appointed to head up the Midwest regional office in Chicago.

The regional office oversees Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio.

In Madison, DNR Secretary Dan Meyer said Ed Eberle, the assistant deputy secretary, will become the No. 2 official in the agency.

In another move, Pat Stevens, administrator of the environmental management division of the DNR, will become assistant deputy secretary.

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