Members of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team are interviewing candidates to head up the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While media reports indicate the president-elect has narrowed the field down to two candidates, a new name is on the lips of some on Trump’s transition team: Dr. Donald van der Vaart.
Van der Vaart is a PhD chemical engineer who currently heads the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. If appointed and approved by Congress, Van der Vaart would be the first PhD scientist to head EPA. He also holds a law degree.
Sources close to Trump’s transition team said van der Vaart would put a halt to overreaching regulations and the so-called “secret science” EPA relies on to push ever-stricter rules on businesses.
“He can see right through this stuff,” a source told The Daily Caller News Foundation, arguing van der Vaart would be critical of any shoddy science coming out of the agency.
Van der Vaart has been a vocal critic of the EPA as North Carolina’s top environmental regulator, especially in regards to the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and the “waters of the United States” rule. Repealing both those rules are top priorities for Trump.
“He understands that time consumption and reams of paperwork, to comply with regulations that accomplish nothing to improve our environment, are economy killers,” North Carolina state Rep. Chris Millis, a van der Vaart supporter, told TheDCNF.
Van der Vaart joined a coalition of states opposing the CPP, which he says violates federal law, and was the signatory on a letter asking President-Elect Trump to rein in the EPA and keep activists from driving the agency’s agenda.
“Our country still needs the EPA, but not the EPA of recent years,” reads the letter signed by top environmental regulators from five state. “We need research targeted at our specific, clear environmental challenges.”
“This can best be done by coordinating industry-level initiatives that cross state lines, which can be defined by measurable success,” reads the letter. “We must put an end to the idea that more regulation is always good, and instead allow state and local experts to improve the environment.”
Van der Vaart also sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy asking her to stop issuing “midnight” regulations that could end up costing states billions of dollars and may be overturned by Trump.
“I am certain that if he was chosen as EPA Administrator, he would be a strong advocate for President Trump’s policies to responsibly unshackle American businesses to be able to hire and grow,” Millis said.
The top two candidates being considered for EPA chief are former Texas regulator Kathleen Hartnett White and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, based on media reports of who Trump has interviewed.
It’s hard to say where van der Vaart stands with Trump’s inner circle, but some on his team are still pushing his name. Sources told The Hill newspaper “Trump and his team are not leaning toward him.”
Van der Vaart, however, still thinks he would be a good choice to head EPA.
“I would be honored to serve in the Trump administration,” van der Vaart told TheDCNF. “I believe that my scientific and legal expertise, along with more than 20 years experience in EPA and state regulatory work, uniquely qualifies me for the position of Administrator.”
Trump is expected to announce his decision on who will lead the EPA in the coming weeks.
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