Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency executive director exits

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The executive director of the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency has resigned.

Oliver Whaley vacated the office on Nov. 27 in order to spend more time with his wife and children and to focus on family matters, the Office of the President and Vice President announced this week.

Whaley had managed the agency since January 2019. He previously served as an attorney with the natural resources unit in the tribe's Department of Justice.

"This was a very hard and emotional decision for my family and I. It's been an honor working for the nation and serving the Navajo people," Whaley said in the press release from the president's office.

Ronnie Ben, the agency's surface and ground water protection department manager, will serve as acting executive director.

Tribal President Jonathan Nez thanked Whaley for his service and wished the best to him and his family.

Oliver Whaley

"He was very instrumental in making positive changes within the EPA including the remediation of uranium mine sites, advocating for Navajo-owned businesses to conduct environmental cleanups and building stronger working relationships with our federal partners," Nez said.

He added that Whaley had a key role in ending the production of marijuana at farms in the Shiprock area.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at

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