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Ex-environment secretary now top NC administrative judge

July 1, 2021 GMT

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Donald van der Vaart, a state environmental secretary for then-Gov. Pat McCrory, engineer and attorney, was named on Thursday to lead North Carolina’s Office of Administrative Hearings.

Van der Vaart, who is now the state’s chief administrative law judge in addition to OAH director, was sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Newby, who appointed him.

Van der Vaart succeeds Julian Mann III, who had served in the positions since 1989. Mann had been reappointed several times to four-year terms by previous chief justices.

The Office of Administrative Hearings is a quasi-judicial agency in which administrative law judges review challenged state agency decisions and investigators examine discrimination allegations made by state and local government workers.

Van der Vaart was a longtime regulator within the Department of Environmental Quality or its predecessor agency before McCrory named him department secretary in early 2015. He later was appointed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Scientific Advisory Board. He’s been serving on the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission.

Van der Vaart is a “multi-disciplined expert who has accumulated a vast amount of experience in regulatory, legal, and administrative operations,” Newby said in a news release.