Youngkin Taps Controversial Trump Figure to Oversee Natural Resources
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s Republican Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin rolled out several staff and cabinet appointments this week, giving form to his inner circle a full 10 days before his Jan. 15 inauguration.
Most controversially, on Wednesday Youngkin announced he wants Andrew Wheeler, who pursued former President Donald Trump’s agenda of rolling back environmental safeguards as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, to be his secretary of natural resources.
Almost as soon as the nomination was announced, state Sen. Scott Surovell, a Democrat, called on his Republican colleagues to join in an effort to kill it.
Also objecting to the nomination of Wheeler, a coal lobbyist before joining the Trump administration, was Michael Town, executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters.
“Youngkin’s pick for secretary of Natural Resources is simply unacceptable,” Town said in a written statement. “As head of EPA under former President Trump, Wheeler did nothing more than cater to corporate polluter interests time and time again, putting their welfare ahead of our environment and Americans’ health.
“This is hands down the most extreme nomination for an environmental post in Virginia’s history and the absolute worst pick that the Gov.-elect could make. While we were optimistic we might be able to find some common ground with the new administration moving forward, this nomination makes it plainly clear that environmental protections are under attack in Virginia, and we are prepared to fight to defend them,” Town said.
Also on Wednesday, Youngkin announced Mike Rolband is his choice to be director of environmental quality, reporting to Wheeler.
Rolband founded Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc., and grew the company from a one man firm to a multi-disciplinary natural and historic resources consulting firm where he managed and led over 160 regulatory and compliance specialists, scientists, engineers, surveyors, GIS specialists, archeologists, ecosystem and restoration specialists, and arborists.
Over nearly 30 years, a press release from the Youngkin transition office says, his company provided services and permit approvals on over 8,000 projects across 300,000 acres in the region.
The release goes on to say that Rolband and WSSI started Virginia’s first wetland mitigation bank in 1991, the state’s first mitigation bank to provide stream credits (in 2001), and its first urban stream bank in 2006.
A graduate of Cornell University, Rolband has a Bachelor of Science degree in civil and environmental engineering along with master’s degree in business administration and a Master of Engineering degree.
The rest of the nominations Youngkin announced went over tamely by comparison.
The governor-elect said Jeff Goettman, who served as chief operating officer and policy director for the Youngkin campaign, will now be his chief of staff.
Goettman, who has also been serving as Youngkin’s transition director since the election, was previously executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Export-Import Bank of the United States and later served as a counselor for domestic finance at the Treasury Department.
He was named to both positions by former President Donald Trump.
Prior to going into government work, Goettman founded CameronBlue Capital to invest in small and mid-sized businesses and was a managing member at Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm Thayer Capital Partners.
He holds a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and an MBA from the Stanford School of Business.
Rebecca Glover will serve as Youngkin‘s deputy chief of staff and communications director.
Glover was director of the Brunswick Group for two years, where she developed several media relations campaigns.
Before joining the Brunswick Group, she headed up the Commerce Department’s communications team, and earlier still, Glover was a Capitol Hill staffer, working for Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and the House Oversight Committee.
She is a graduate of the University of Virginia.
Youngkin also announced that Eric Moeller will be his chief transformation officer. Moeller is currently a partner at McKinsey & Co., where he oversees a business development unit.
Prior to joining McKinsey & Co., Moeller was a trustee of AGE Refining, vice president of Valero Energy Corp. and partner at the Boston Consulting Group.
Moeller holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
In a written statement, the governor-elect said he was excited to “welcome this group of leaders with a record of experience and serving others.
“These qualified individuals with various backgrounds bring vast experience that ensure we will deliver on our promises to make Virginia the best place to live, work and raise a family,” Youngkin said.
In addition to those staff announcements, Youngkin also picked Craig Crenshaw to be secretary of veterans and defense affairs, and Daniel Gade to be his commissioner at the state Department of Veterans Services.
Crenshaw is currently president of Claxton Logistics Services LLC, which provides supply chain services to military and civilian clients.
A retired major general, while serving in the Marine Corps, Crenshaw was the corps’ senior executive of logistics and supply chain management, and prior to that, as the director of manpower management.
He also served as the commanding general and the director of logistics plans and policies and was the vice director for logistics at the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Crenshaw holds a bachelor’s in political science from Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College at Baton Rouge.
He holds a master’s degree from Webster University and one from the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy.
Gade is also a retired military man, having left the U.S. Army in 2017 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
While serving in Iraq in 2005, he sustained severe injuries that led to the amputation of his right leg. He co-founded The Independence Project to help veterans after his retirement from the army.
For the last six years of his service, Gade worked at the White House and taught at West Point. In his most recent role, Gade was a senior adviser to the secretary of labor in the Veterans Employment and Training Service.
Gade holds a bachelor’s degree from West Point and master’s of public administration and doctorate degrees from the University of Georgia.