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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina's environment agency is confirming a former top Republican budget writer in the state House is now one of its top deputies in Gov. Pat McCrory's administration.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary John Skvarla announced Wednesday outgoing Rep. Mitch Gillespie of Marion is assistant secretary for the environment. Gillespie will help develop major policy initiatives for air emissions permits, animal operation regulation and other programs.

Gillespie served in the House for 14 years, where recently he was an appropriations committee co-chairman and helped pass legislation authorizing a form of natural gas exploration called fracking. Gillespie resigned from the House earlier this week. Republicans in his district will choose his successor.

Skvarla also named Brad Ives and Mary Penny Thompson as other assistant department secretaries.

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