Ex-McCrory environment head retires from lesser agency job

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s environment Cabinet chief under then-Gov. Pat McCrory has retired from a lesser job within the agency weeks after the department suspended him.

Donald van der Vaart told WBTV he submitted his retirement letter Tuesday to the Department of Environmental Quality. The career state employee was named DEQ secretary by the Republican McCrory in 2015. A day before Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper took office, van der Vaart demoted himself to the Division of Air Quality.

DEQ confirmed earlier this month he was placed on paid investigatory leave. An agency memo obtained by WBTV gave little specific about the examination. Van der Vaart says agency officials told him they were unhappy with a paper he co-wrote and his appointment to an Environmental Protection Agency science advisory board.