While you were out of the news loop over the holidays, on Dec. 23, Gov. Pat McCrory named his new appointee to one of the state's most important agencies.
Donald van der Vaart is the new secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, replacing John "oil is renewable energy" Skvarla, who's been whisked off to the Commerce Department.
Van der Vaart has been deputy secretary only since August, although previously he worked in air quality and as the department's energy policy adviser, according to the governor's press release.
However, these details were missing from Christmas Surprise 2014: Not surprisingly, he's a fossil fuel guy. Van der Vaart worked for Shell and Carolina Power & Light, now a subsidiary of Duke Energy. In 2013, he testified before Congress that only the states, not the federal government, can legally limit greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. And he participated in a clandestine meeting with the feds and energy companies about oil drilling off the East Coast.
Van der Vaart has two patents, including one invention for the Gas Technology Institute, a pro-natural gas nonprofit based in Illinois. It addresses issues "impacting the natural gas and energy markets."
Van der Vaart's resume got us wondering: What are the qualifications to be DENR Secretary? We rummaged through DENR's trash bin (does the agency not recycle?) and unearthed this application. Answer these questions correctly, and you too, could be the next DENR secretary.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Help wanted"