Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday announced that Donald van der Vaart will serve as the next secretary for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). He will replace John Skvarla, who is slated to head the N.C. Department of Commerce when current Secretary Sharon Decker leaves at the end of December.
“Don van der Vaart possesses extensive knowledge of environmental regulations and will continue DENR’s focus on protecting our environment while helping to maintain the economic resurgence that our state has seen since 2013,” McCrory said in a statement.
Van der Vaart currently serves as deputy secretary and energy policy advisor for DENR. He previously worked as an engineering supervisor and later a program manager for the N.C. Division of Air Quality.
He is an adjunct professor in engineering at N.C. State University, where he also teaches environmental policy and law. His previous work includes scientific research at Virginia Tech and at Research Triangle Institute.
Van der Vaart holds a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Cambridge (England), a law degree from N.C. Central University, a master’s degree in chemical engineering from N.C. State University and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UNC Chapel Hill.
“I am privileged to take on this role after serving the department in various capacities over the past 20 years,” Van der Vaart aid. “My background is in engineering and environmental regulation, and as secretary I will focus on DENR’s core mission of environmental protection and augmenting our citizens’ understanding of our state’s abundant and unique natural resources.”