Tom Reeder, who as a top official in the state’s environmental protection agency vigorously promoted the McCrory administration’s deregulation campaign and steered the state’s response to the natural and political disaster of coal ash pollution, has left the department.
Reeder retired and several other key officials in the state Department of Environmental Quality were dismissed as part of the Cooper administration’s replacement of former Gov. Pat McCrory’s top appointees. DEQ Secretary Michael Regan announced the moves Monday.
Reeder, a former Marine with a rapid-fire manner of speaking, was a familiar figure at the General Assembly. His role put him in the middle of the controversies around coal ash regulation, Jordan Lake pollution, water and air quality issues and coastal development. In 2013, he made a video that was sent to agency staff across the state saying some of the agency was in the bulls-eye of the Republican-controlled General assembly for being overly aggressive with regulations.
Replacing Reeder as assistant secretary for the environment is Sheila Holman, who led the Division of Air Quality, and has nearly three decades of experience in federal and state water and air regulation. Mike Abraczinskas, a career employee, will be acting director of the division.
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Regan also named retired colonel John A. Nicholson as chief deputy secretary, replacing John Evans, who took a lesser position with personnel protections and was not subject to patronage firing. Former Secretary Donald van der Vaart took the same action.
Nicholson served 28 years in the Marine Corps, where he worked on energy efficiency and conservation initiatives, and was military adviser to two North Carolina governors.
Those dismissed include:
▪ Department general counsel Sam Hayes. He will be replaced by William “Bill” F. Lane, who has worked for the Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton law firm in Raleigh for 20 years, specializing in environmental law.
▪ Mollie Young, who was the agency’s legislative affairs director. Previously, Young had been the spokeswoman for House Speaker Tim Moore. She is being replaced by R. Anderson “Andy” Miller, who has worked for two House representatives.
▪ Chief spokeswoman Stephanie Hawco. Jamie Kritzer, who has been a public information officer for the agency since 2003, was named acting deputy secretary for public affairs.
A previous version of this story incorrectly said Reeder was fired.