Clifford Wilson III is the Interim Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. His position is official December 1, the day Secretary Herschel Vinyard steps down due to retirement, according to a statement from Governor Rick Scott's communications office.
“Secretary Vinyard was instrumental in helping us protect Florida’s environment for future generations, and we are thankful for his service to Florida families," Scott said in a written statement.
Still there have been controversies at DEP under Vinyard's watch. Critics of the Scott administration's policies have pointed out the department has not done much to enforce its own rules and has created an expedited system of permitting projects without much review of the ecological impacts of them.
Most recently, Vinyard and the DEP clashed with an oil developer in Collier County over a well located near a panther preserve. DEP ended up pulling the developer's permit after the company failed to timely respond to DEP's demands.
Vinyard is the second department head to resign this week. Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews also stepped down. Vinyard is one of the longest-serving Department heads in Scott's administration. He took over DEP in January of 2011.
The new interim DEP Secretary, Cliff Wilson currently serves as Deputy Secretary for Regulatory Programs at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Previously, Wilson served as Assistant Deputy Secretary of Land and Recreation at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and Assistant Director in DEP's Northwest District Office. Wilson is a member of the Florida Engineering Society and serves as an engineering mentor to students at Florida State University.