Nolin to step down from DES post

In the battle of wills between Governor John Lynch and Environmental Services Commissioner Mike Nolin, the commissioner blinked.

Governor Lynch announced yesterday that Nolin – who has served as commissioner since being appointed in 2003 by former Gov. Craig Benson — will step down as commissioner on Nov.1 and retire from state service on Dec. 31.

The governor said that, at his request, Nolin will use the time between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 to assist with the transition to a new commissioner and work on special projects.

“It has been a great honor to have led DES over the past 3-1/2 years,” Nolin said at the announcement. “I will retire proud of accomplishments achieved during that period. My tenure as commissioner represents the highlight of 20 years of service to the public and the environment of New Hampshire.”

The governor praised Nolin “for his service to New Hampshire state government, and for his willingness to work with the department to ensure a smooth transition.”

Nolin’s decision to step down paves the way for the governor to submit his nomination of Thomas Burack, a Manchester-based environmental attorney, whom he has been promoting over the last several week to take over at DES.

Nolin had said as recently as last week that he didn’t want to step down from the position.

Members of the Executive Council, which meets Wednesday, have been divided over Burack’s nomination.

Councilors Debora Pignatelli and Ruth Griffin have said they would support Burack. Councilors Ray Burton and Ray Wieczorek wanted to keep Nolin and said they would oppose Burack. Councilor Peter Spaulding said last Tuesday that he remained undecided. At the time, he said, if forced to vote, he would have either abstained or vote against Burack.

Burack serves as chairman of the state’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program and has received support from several environmental groups. In nominating Burack, Lynch pointed to the attorney’s business and environmental issues. – JEFF FEINGOLD

Categories: News