by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A scientist who’s worked at North Carolina’s environmental agency for more than two decades said he was forced out after being appointed to a Trump administration scientific advisory board.
Donald van der Vaart was chosen to serve on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science Advisory Board in early November, less than 24 hours later, he was put on “investigatory leave.”
Three-and-a-half weeks later, he’s resigned from his position at North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
“I have to wonder if it’s related to Administrator Pruitt and President Trump,” said van der Vaart, a chemical engineer with a law degree who’s worked as an environmental regulator in North Carolina for more than 23 years.
“That seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back,” van der Vaart told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an interview.
Van der Vaart submitted his resignation Tuesday evening, about one week after receiving a letter from current DEQ Secretary Michael Regan they were going to recommend he be dismissed for “unacceptable personal conduct.”
What did van der Vaart do? Regan wrote the now-DEQ middling published an article in an academic journal that contradicted the agency’s position on an EPA regulation.
Regan specifically said van der Vaart’s “use of a small print disclaimer” saying the article expressed personal views “creates confusion for the public” and hurts DEQ’s credibility on impartially enforcing the law.
Regan went on to add they were “aware” of van der Vaart’s “nomination to various scientific boards without timely and appropriate discussion with this department.”
“They’d like to get rid of anybody who seems to be tolerant of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt,” van der Vaart said. “It was kind of sad to me.”