DEQ’S VAN DER VAART NEEDS TO EXIT, EVEN IF IT’S NOT GRACEFUL (Capitol Broadcasting Co. editorial) — Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Donald van der Vaart’s self-demotion demeans him and the agency he once led. If he won’t go on his own, he should be fired. Van der Vaart’s relatively brief tenure at the helm of the department has been marked more by controversy and dissension than accomplishment. The coal ash disposal issue, sparked by the Dan River spill before he came into office, remains unresolved. A bitter dispute over the wording of warnings connected with potentially unsafe well water ignited into accusations of lying under oath and resignations in protest. He has sought to thwart the development of renewable energy, including solar, one of the state’s top economic growth bright spots. If Cooper’s administration leaders can figure out a way to fire van der Vaart, they need to do it. If he wants, let him sue. Send the lawyers’ bill to the General Assembly, where there seems to be no shortage of legal defense funds.