West Virginia’s environmental secretary to leave post

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The head of West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection is leaving state government in January, the governor announced.

Austin Caperton, 69, has served as cabinet secretary since January 2017. Gov. Jim Justice said Tuesday his replacement will be appointed once he leaves his post. The agency is in charge of regulating everything from air and water quality to overseeing abandoned mine lands.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the great state of West Virginia and its citizens,” Caperton said in a statement. He said this year has made him “realize, more than ever, that our days are limited.

“I want to pursue other interests and I have decided to start now, rather than later,” he said.

Justice said the department under Caperton’s leadership disbursed over $100 million in grant funds for abandoned mines and opened a new water treatment facility.