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Brian Mast, Joe Negron will have Ron DeSantis’ attention on environment

Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis and future Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez are enlisting more than 40 policy experts, officeholders and private-industry leaders to help the incoming administration make sound agricultural and environmental policy decisions.

DeSantis’ transition team unveiled its Advisory Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture on Monday. 

Leading the committee is Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, whose district suffers from near-annual, blue-green toxic algae outbreak.

Mast has served as a federal voice on the issue and recently won re-election with environmental groups The Everglades Trust and Bullsugar by his side.

“I look forward to working with Governor-elect DeSantis again, as we did in Congress, to protect Florida’s natural environment,” Mast said in a statement. “We will work tirelessly to help start his administration off on the right foot.”

This isn’t the first time DeSantis and Mast have cooperated on environmental concerns.

A former House colleague of Mast’s, DeSantis recently teamed up with the Treasure Coast congressman to issue a joint statement expressing frustration over a land lease with the potential to delay construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.

DeSantis has described himself as a “Teddy Roosevelt-Republican.” He railed against his primary opponent Adam Putnam for not faulting the state’s massive sugar industry for the proliferation of toxic algae blooms near Atlantic estuaries. He has promised to expedite the construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, expected to help ease the amount of toxic overflow into nearby estuaries.

Like Mast, DeSantis also was endorsed by The Everglades Trust. Meanwhile, Everglades Foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg is listed on the advisory committee. 

Also included are former lawmakers, including former Senate President Joe Negron, of Stuart. Negron’s legacy in the upper chamber is in part defined by his ushering of a bill that mandated the construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.

Meanwhile, POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon is reporting on Monday that Negron, whose term ended earlier this month, is now general counsel at private prison company GEO Group.

Former state House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and former state Rep. Jake Raburn also are named on the committee list.

Also helping DeSantis and Nunez plot ag and enviro policy are two names already in top state spots: Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner Bo Rivard. Former FWC Commissioner Ron Bergeron, also known as Alligator Ron, will likewise serve on the committee.

A full list of advisers appears below:

Bob Bailey; President of Facilities & Urban Environments Market, CH2M HILL Companies, Ltd.

Ernie Barnett; Executive Director, Florida Land Council and Principal, Water and Land Advisors, Inc.

Mike Beale; Senior Vice President & Regional Manager of Orlando Operations, Highwoods Properties Inc.

Ron Bergeron; Founder & CEO, Bergeron Family of Companies

Ken Bryan; State Director, Florida Field Office, Rails to Trails Conservancy

Tom Cabrerizo; CEO, CFH Group

Brittany Perkins Castillo; CEO, Ashbritt Environmental

Tracy Duda Chapman; Senior Vice President, Chief Legal and Administrative Officer, General Counsel, A. Duda & Sons

Ernie Cox; President, Family Lands Remembered, LLC and Director, Florida Earth Foundation

Steve Crisafulli; Former Speaker, Florida House of Representatives

Ron Edwards; President & CEO, Evans Properties, Inc.

Erik Eikenberg; CEO, Everglades Foundation

Anthony Farhat; President, PGI Homes LLC

Roger Germann; President & CEO, Florida Aquarium

Maryam Ghyabi-White; Vice President of Florida Operations, Alfred Benesch & Co.

Matt Griffin; East Coast Sales & Product Development, United Genetics Seeds Co.

Alex Johns; President, Florida Cattleman’s Association and Natural Resources Director, Seminole Tribe

Matt Jordan; General Manager, Tampa Bay Water

Josh Kellam; Commissioner, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and President of the Florida Division, ESG Enterprises

Steve Kelly; Manager, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company

Michael Kennedy; President, Ranger Construction Industries, Inc. and Director, Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County

Curt Kiser; Commissioner, Public Employee Relations Commission

Gaston Marquevich; Founder & CEO, Optimum Agriculture

John Miklos; President, Bio-Tech Consulting, Inc.

Temperince Morgan; Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy

Joe Negron; Former President, Florida Senate

Dan O’Keefe; Partner, Shutts & Bowen, LLP and Board Member, East Central Florida Regional Planning Council

Maurice Pearson; Vice President, Senior Scientist, MSE Group

Jake Raburn; Former Representative, Florida House of Representatives

Dan Richey; President & CEO, Riverfront Packing Company

Bo Rivard; Commissioner, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Partner, Harrison, Rivard, Duncan & Buzzett

Scott Shepherd; Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, Guest Services, Inc.

Michael Sole; Vice President, Environmental Services, NextEra Energy

Jim Spratt; Owner, Magnolia Strategies LLC

Eileen Stuart; Shareholder, Hopping Green & Sams

Jim Swann; Vice Chair, Eckerd Connects

Ben Taube; Managing Director, Policy and Legislative Affairs, Ygrene Energy Fund

Noah Valenstein; Secretary, Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Nick Wiley; Chief Conservation Officer, Ducks Unlimited, Inc

Keith Wold; Attorney, Private Investor  

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  1. Roy Maines

    December 5, 2018 at 8:55 am

    Great start. I’m a resident of SC but follow the water issue closely. My sister lives in Stuart less than a mile from the river. I have seen the disgusting discharges from Okeechobee and feel for the folks who are impacted by the consequences. Please do all you can to fix this problem for current and future generations. It’s what TR would do for sure!

  2. Blanche Hawkins

    December 10, 2018 at 7:59 am

    Wonderful news. Having a variety of voices will ensure that no special interest can claim their voice was not heard, for one thing. If the new governor IS a Teddy Roosevelt Republican, he can get a lot done with this advisory group. This issues has been studied to death- GET ON WITH IT!

  3. Marjorie Bray

    December 10, 2018 at 11:22 am

    I’m concerned to see Eileen Stuart, formerly with Mosaic, presently with the firm representing Mosaic against DeSoto County, on this list. I can’t see where anyone can deny that the further expansion of phosphate mining contributes to our horrible water problems. This is somewhat disturbing, to me at least.

  4. chris safos

    December 10, 2018 at 8:02 pm

    i hope the new governor and his staf can give the people of florida new faith in honest government and save the water crisis in our beautiful state and the future!!

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