Noah Valenstein, Gov. Rick Scott‘s former environmental policy coordinator, has the inside track to become the next secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, sources tell FloridaPolitics.com.
Valenstein, now the executive director of the Suwannee River Water Management District, is the top pick over interim secretary Ryan Matthews.
Scott and the Cabinet in February OK’d Matthews to serve as interim department head to fill in for departing secretary Jon Steverson. He quit in January to join the legal-lobbying firm of Foley & Lardner.
Valenstein attended an August 2014 meeting in which Scott listened to a group of leading Florida scientists talk about climate change.
At the end of that meeting, Scott declined to say whether he had been convinced by scientific evidence that rising sea levels and warming temperatures merit government action.
Scott also later denied that his administration banned agencies under his control from using the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in public, in emails or in other official documents.
Valenstein, a Gainesville native, graduated with honors from the University of Florida’s School of Natural Resources and Environment and has a law degree from Florida State University.
He interned for both former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and past Senate President Toni Jennings in the late 1990s.
Valenstein has lobbied for the Department of Environmental Protection and worked for the Florida House of Representatives (including as deputy policy chief for environmental issues) before leaving for private legal practice.
He’s been a board member of the Everglades Trust, worked for the Everglades Foundation, briefly owned a polling and research company and consulted on policy for Scott’s re-election campaign, according to his resume.
The governor and Cabinet have agreed to aim on a DEP hire during the May 23 Cabinet meeting.