Former N.C. Secretary of Environmental Quality retires after imposed leave

RALEIGH — Former North Carolina Secretary of Environmental Quality Donald van der Vaart is retiring from the agency, less than a month after being placed on paid administrative leave.  Van der Vaart served as DEQ Secretary under Republican Governor Pat McCrory and demoted himself after McCrory lost re-election. Governor Roy Cooper named  Michael Regan as DEQ Secretary.

Van der Vaart was placed on paid administrative leave on November 1, 2017 after co-authoring a scientific article and accepting a board on a scientific advisory board convened by the US Environmental Protection Agency. His paid leave does not give a specific reason for the action.

“This leave is being initiated in order to investigate concerns regarding your conduct and recent actions that may have compromised the Division of Air Quality and the Department of Environmental Quality,” the letter said. “This is not a disciplinary action.”

Van der Vaart submitted a letter to DEQ notifying the agency of his retirement late Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m afraid it’s probably a little more about politics but it’s still sad nonetheless,” van der Vaart said of his suspension.