Another official at Louisiana's environmental agency resigns. New leader has stirred controversy. (2024)

Another top aide to Louisiana's embattled environmental chief has resigned.

Stacey Holley, Aurelia Giacometto's chief of staff, submitted her resignation on Monday from the post at the state Department of Environmental Quality, becoming the latest top official to depart the agency this year. Giacometto, a former Donald Trump administration official appointed by Gov. Jeff Landry as DEQ secretary, has come under fire over her management style, which she has defended, saying change is needed at the state's environmental regulator.

Giacometto's first assistant who worked as an agency spokeswoman, Holley confirmed her resignation but declined to offer a reason why she is leaving the department after about three months on the job.

Her departure, however, comes amid a state Legislative Auditor's Officeinvestigation of the workplace culture at DEQ since Giacometto took over. The audit includes a survey of agency employees and some one-on-one interviews.

Giacometto, a lawyer and biologist who was Trump's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director, has said she has the dual mandate to ease permitting so the agency is on a "pro-business footing" and still protects the environment.

She did not respond to requests for comment, but Landry called the ongoing problems at DEQ a symptom of bureaucratic resistance to his secretary's mandate for pro-business changes.

"Everything that is going on at the Department of Environmental Quality is not surprising to me. That is a department that is stuck in the Stone Age — they do not want to change," he said in a statement. "This is resistance by the bureaucracy, and we will have this for the next four years until we have a department that meets the needs of industry in this state."

Giacometto's management style has promptedseveral high-level DEQ employeesto leave the agency after clashing with her during her first few weeks in office. Some remaining top officials, speaking anonymously, suggested the agency was in turmoil due to her early initiative to tightly control DEQ employees' contact with entities outside the agency.

Those who have left include officials named to prominent positions since Landry and Giacometto took office, meaning they were not holdovers from the previous administration.

Holley had replaced Giacometto's former chief of staff, Justin Crossie, who left earlier this year among the first wave of departures in DEQ's top leadership.

Theformer agency communications director, Meagan Molter, also left earlier this year. She had left the Louisiana Chemical Association to join Landry's DEQ.

In a March 1 resignation letter, Chandra Pidgeon, hired just weeks earlier on Feb. 19 as undersecretary of DEQ's Office of Management and Finance, complained about Giacometto's "harassment of longtime employees," actions Pidgeon described as "numerous atrocities" and part of an effort to drive them from the department.

The Legislative Auditor's Office announced the workplace survey on June 3 in a notice to all DEQ employees, two months after many of the top-level departures had occurred. The audit will include asking employees if they are concerned about unethical behavior, have experienced workplace retaliation and what their perceptions of agency morale are.

David J. Mitchell can be reached at

Another official at Louisiana's environmental agency resigns. New leader has stirred controversy. (2024)


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