State Officials Take Steps To Name Permanent Environment, Transportation Secretaries

May 17, 2017

Credit DXR via wikimedia commons

Florida Governor Rick Scott is tapping a former aide and water management district chief to head up the state’s environmental agency.

Governor Scott is looking to Noah Valenstein to run the department of environmental protection.  The governor appointed Valenstein to the lead the Suwannee water management district in 2015, and before that he served as Scott’s environmental policy coordinator.  The Cabinet will take up the nomination at its meeting next week. 

Former Secretary Jon Steverson resigned in January amid criticism over the agency’s handling of a sinkhole at a mosaic fertilizer facility in Central Florida, and eye-popping budget requests to cover legal fees in a long running tri-state water dispute.

Meanwhile, the Florida Transportation Commission is sending Scott its short list of candidates to lead the state transportation agency.  Current and former transportation officials Mike Dew, Ron Howse and Richard Biter made the cut. 

Commission chairman Jay Trumbull defends the slate, but voted against the lineup.

“I know one preeminent thing that we discussed last time was the need to have an engineer—we do have one engineer in that group,” Trumbull says.

Commissioners backed Dew, who serves as the department’s chief of staff, after an initial proposal with Phillip Gainer failed.  Gainer currently serves as the agency’s secretary for Northwest Florida.