State Politics

Another top environmental regulator replaced

Wetland and stream mitigation, such as this project near Aurora by PCS Phosphate shot in 2006, is typical of the work done by state regulators.
Wetland and stream mitigation, such as this project near Aurora by PCS Phosphate shot in 2006, is typical of the work done by state regulators. THE NEWS AND OBSERVER

Another top official at the state’s environmental regulatory agency has been replaced by the new administration.

Michael Ellison, who was director of the Division of Mitigation Services, left the Department of Environmental Quality after his appointment ended effective Feb. 9.

Tim Baumgartner, deputy director for the division, is filling in as interim director of the division.

Ellison ran the division that deals with offsetting development-related pollution by restoring streams and wetlands. Ellison rose through the ranks under the administration of Gov. Pat McCrory, who appointed as head of the agency John Skvarla, who was in the private mitigation business.

Under Skvarla, environmental groups clashed with the agency over whether it was adequately enforcing environmental protections.

In 2014, the N.C. Environmental Management Commission publicly scolded the agency for privately rewriting stream protection rules with a small group of regulators and industry insiders. Ellison apologized for not informing the commission but said the changes were minor and technical.

In a news release the state agency put out in 2013 announcing his promotion, Ellison was said to have had more than 25 years experience in restoring disturbed areas as a consultant and contractor across the country.

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO

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