Rick Scott’s environmental advisor tapped as water district head
Stock image via Adobe.

Gov. Rick Scott‘s environmental policy coordinator has been hired to run the Suwannee River Water Management District, the district announced in a press release.

Noah Valenstein will take over as executive director for the Live Oak-based agency, which manages water resources in 15 counties in north central Florida.

Valenstein also attended the meeting last August in which Scott listened to a group of leading Florida scientists talk about climate change.

At the end of that meeting, Scott didn’t say – and still has not said – whether he had been convinced by scientific evidence that rising sea levels and warming temperatures merit government action.

Scott, however, has 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, the press release said.

Valenstein’s resume, provided by the district, shows he also had early Republican cred.

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 the resume.

Valenstein’s selection as executive director must now be approved by Scott and confirmed by the Florida Senate. His new salary was not immediately available.

District spokeswoman Abby Johnson said “the terms of (his) contract are being negotiated,” with the final deal set for consideration at the governing board’s October meeting. Valenstein made $116,000 yearly with Scott’s office.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected].



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