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Gov. Scott picks his former aide, Noah Valenstein, to be next DEP secretary

Klas climate change meeting@MaryEllenKlas

Gov. Rick Scott's pick for his next secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection will be Noah Valenstein, the executive director of the Suwannee Water Management District and a former environmental policy aide in the governor's office, staff announced at a meeting of the Cabinet aides on Wednesday.

Valenstein will be the only candidate interviewed by the governor and Cabinet at the May 23 meeting and, if approved, he will replace interim secretary Ryan Matthews, who was given the temporary promotion upon the resignation of Jon Steverson in January. Steverson left to join the law firm of Foley & Lardner. 

Valenstein served as Scott's executive office environmental policy coordinator from 2012 to 2015 and in October 2015 was appointed to head the Suwannee WMD. He worked for the Everglades Foundation as director of legislative affairs from November 2010 to December 2012. He has a law degree from Florida State University law school and a graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in environmental policy. 

Eric Draper, director of Audubon of Florida, commended the appointment and believes that Valentine will help shift the direction of the agency to restore the focus on water planning and land acquisition. 

"I think he'll help move it back to the direction to make sure we have a good plan for water and more oversight of the water management districts so they are making good decisions,'' Draper said.

Photo: Eckerd College marine science professor David Hastings, left, speaks to Gov. Scott, right, and his aide, Noah Valenstein, during an Aug. 20, 2014, meeting about why Florida should act to offset the impact of climate change. Credit: Mary Ellen Klas, Miami Herald.