Clifford Wilson named interim Secretary of Fla. Dept. of Environmental Protection

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Florida Department of Environmental Secretary Hershel T. Vinyard will retire Monday. Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday the appointment of Clifford Wilson III as interim secretary.

Word started spreading this week that Vinyard would not be a member of the Scott’s administration second term. Vinyard served as director of business operation for BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards before joining Scott’s economic development transition team four years ago. He was appointed DEP secretary January 2011

“Sec. Vinyard was instrumental in helping us protect Florida’s environment for future generations, and we are thankful for his service to Florida families,” said Gov. Scott.

Vinyard’s tenure was marked by millions of dollars in spending cuts and the layoff of hundreds of employees.

The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility study two years ago said DEP had become essentially nonfunctional under Vinyard’s stewardship, reporting a drop in enforcement in just about every anti-pollution area.

DEP responded by noting that permitting rules had been streamlined and the drop in enforcement and assessed penalties was a result of the Great Recession and a decrease in economic activity.

Interim Secretary Wilson has served as Vinyard’s deputy secretary for regulatory programs and previously was the assistant deputy secretary of land and recreation.

“Cliff Wilson has helped lead DEP’s efforts to protect Florida’s natural treasures,” said Scott in a prepared statement. “With his knowledge and experience, Wilson will ensure the Department continues to support Florida’s environment.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.