Youngkin announces slate of environmental board appointments

Picks include four new air board members

By: - May 16, 2022 5:37 pm

Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin met with outgoing Gov. Ralph Northam Thursday at the Executive Mansion. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced a slate of appointments to Virginia’s citizen environmental boards Friday, including four picks for the seven-person Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board that will be charged with approving the administration’s efforts to pull Virginia out of a regional carbon market

Youngkin’s air board appointments include: 

  • James Patrick Guy II, general counsel for Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative who previously served as president of the Virginia Bar Association and was a partner at Williams Mullen
  • Jay Holloway, managing partner with the Climate Law & Strategy, PLLC law firm and a former partner at Williams Mullen 
  • David Hudgins, executive director for the Virginia Energy Consumer Trust, an advocacy group skeptical of renewables, and former director of member and external relations for Old Dominion Electric Cooperative 
  • Donald L. Ratliff, president of consultancy Commonwealth Connections Inc. and board member for Appalachian School of Law who previously worked as vice president of state governmental affairs for Alpha Natural Resources coal company

Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter said Holloway and Hudgins will join the board immediately. Guy and Ratliff’s appointments will begin July 1 after the expiration of the terms of current board chair Kajal Kapur and board member Gail Moore. 

The air board has over the past several years been one of Virginia’s most high-profile environmental boards because of its long-running responsibility for approving controversial air permits. However, during the 2022 session, the General Assembly voted to strip both the air board and the State Water Control Board of their permitting power beginning July 1. 

The air board will be charged with approving an emergency regulation the Youngkin administration has drafted to pull Virginia out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate market that aims to reduce emissions of climate change-causing carbon dioxide. That regulation is expected to come before the board this summer

While governors typically appoint two air board members every year, political infighting in Richmond linked to Democrats’ refusal to confirm former Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler to Virginia’s top environmental post led Republicans to block confirmation of two air board appointments made by former Gov. Ralph Northam last year. That left four seats vacant for Youngkin to fill. 

For the State Water Control Board appointments, Youngkin is returning former board chair Robert Dunn, a retired environmental and community affairs manager for Dupont, to his seat. Dunn last served on the board in 2018, when Northam chose not to reappoint him. 

Scott Cameron, a senior adviser at technology startup Cornea Inc., was also appointed to the water board. Both members’ terms begin immediately. 

Youngkin also made four appointments to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Starting immediately will be William Bransom of the Norfolk Anglers Club and Spencer Headley, owner of Reedville’s Claws and Scales. Starting July 1 will be Alan Erskine, vice president of Cowart Seafood Corp., and Lynn Kellum, manager of Ampro Shipyard & Diesel in Reedville. 

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Sarah Vogelsong
Sarah Vogelsong

Sarah is Editor-in-Chief of the Mercury and previously its environment and energy reporter. She has worked for multiple Virginia and regional publications, including Chesapeake Bay Journal, The Progress-Index and The Caroline Progress. Her reporting has won awards from groups such as the Society of Environmental Journalists and Virginia Press Association, and she is an alumna of the Columbia Energy Journalism Initiative and Metcalf Institute Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists.