Going, going, gone: DEQ Secretary Michael Regan announces big leadership changes

The Assistant Secretary of the Environment Tom Reeder is out, as are four other key leaders at the NC Department of Environmental Quality, according to an announcement made by DEQ Secretary Michael Regan today.

Retired Col. John Nicholson

  • Retired Col. John A. Nicholson has been named the chief deputy secretary, replacing John Evans. Nicholson served 28 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including seven months in Afghanistan, and was the military affairs advisor to Govs. Beverly Perdue and Pat McCrory. Nicholson has advanced energy efficiency and environmental conservation initiatives while in the military, according to the press release. Nicholson’s special projects will include those dealing with the environment and the military; that could put him in a key position to negotiate the placement of onshore wind farms in eastern North Carolina.
  • Sheila Holman has been promoted to assistant secretary for the environment, replacing Reeder, whose controversial tenure included wielding his influence over reversing the do not drink orders for well owners near coal ash basins.
    Holman has worked for nearly 30 years in the federal and state air quality, including the last six years leading the state Division of Air Quality. Holman’s job description is broad. She will oversee major policy initiatives, including permitting of discharges to surface waters; issuance of air emissions permits, permitting of coastal development; and regulation of animal operations — crucial considering the EPA’s latest criticism of DEQ’s handling of swine waste lagoons.
  • Mike Abraczinskas, who has worked much of his career as an environmental engineer with DEQ, will serve as the acting director for the N.C. Division of Air Quality.
  • Bill F. Lane will serve as DEQ’s general counsel, replacing Sam Hayes. He will supervise the rulemaking coordination process and provide advice on new policy initiatives, legislation, contracts, conflicts of interest and dispute resolution.
  • Andy Miller has been named the department’s legislative affairs director. Miller has managed legislative functions for two N.C. House representatives, including Brian Turner, a Democrat from Buncombe County. Miller’s job is to work with the General Assembly on environmental legislation and coordinate DEQ’s periodic reports to the General Assembly. Miller replaces Mollie Young.
  • After 14 years as a public information officer for DEQ, Jamie Kritzer has been named acting deputy secretary for public affairs. Kritzer replaces Stephanie Hawco.

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