DeSantis reappoints Department of Environmental Protection secretary

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday that he has reappointed Noah Valenstein to keep his role as secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Valenstein was first appointed in 2017 by former Gov. Rick Scott, for whom he served as environmental policy aide from 2012 to 2015.

“Noah has led DEP with distinction and has played an integral role in implementing my vision to protect and restore Florida’s environment,” DeSantis said in a statement Friday. “I’m confident his continued leadership will bolster our efforts to take decisive action on behalf of the people of Florida.”

Noah Valenstein
Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein. Courtesy of the Florida Office of the Governor

Valenstein’s initial appointment pleased environmental groups who took issue with his predecessor, who sparred with groups over land acquisition and management practices and eventually left for a legal and lobbying firm that had done business with DEP.

Before Valenstein started his role in DEP, the Alachua County native served as executive director for the Suwannee River Water Management District in 2015.

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He worked as director of legislative affairs from 2010 to 2012 for the Everglades Foundation, which praised DeSantis’ pick.

“Secretary Valenstein understands the critical link between cleaning up our water and the economic viability of our state,” said Eric Eikenberg, CEO of The Everglades Foundation “Secretary Valenstein’s long-standing commitment to Florida’s natural resources will deliver tangible results for Florida’s waterways.”

Audubon Florida Executive Director Julie Wraithmell also lauded DeSantis, calling the reappointment a “great move.”

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Wraithmell said she was excited for the “future of Florida,” citing Valenstein’s accomplishments like restoring Florida Forever funding to $100 million, implementing springs restoration projects and driving state efforts on sea level rise adaptation.

“Secretary Valenstein was a breath of fresh air when he arrived at DEP, and I can’t wait to see what he’ll accomplish in an administration with such a commitment to meeting Florida’s water and other conservation challenges,” she said.

Valenstein has a law degree from Florida State University law school and graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in environmental policy.

Samantha J. Gross is a politics and policy reporter for the Miami Herald. Before she moved to the Sunshine State, she covered breaking news at the Boston Globe and the Dallas Morning News.