Shawn Hamilton staying on at Department of Environmental Protection
Image via Facebook Live.

Ron DeSantis Shawn Hamilton
Hamilton has received bipartisan praise and oversees a historic environmental budget.

Shawn Hamilton will return as Secretary for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ second term.

Hamilton has received bipartisan praise at the Department, the state’s top environment management agency. He has led the Department since June 2021 and was confirmed unanimously in March of this year.

“Shawn Hamilton has done an excellent job leading the (DEP) and overseeing our historic funding for Everglades restoration and the protection of water resources,” DeSantis tweeted Friday afternoon. “I am excited to have him back serving as Secretary for my next term!”

A 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Hamilton has been with DEP since 2007. From February 2020 to June 2021, he served as Deputy Secretary of Lands and Recreation, a department with a $391 million budget where he led 1,160 full-time employees overseeing Florida’s 12 million acres of public lands and 175 state parks, trails and historic sites.

Before that, Hamilton ran DEP’s Northwest District for nine years, leading permitting, compliance and regulations enforcement.

According to his DEP bio, he has also coordinated DEP’s environmental justice efforts and commanded several large-scale natural and industrial emergency relief efforts, including work on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, International Paper Mill explosion, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Michael.

Although the Senate gave Hamilton their unanimous support in March, the road to his confirmation was politically charged even before the Governor named him his final pick.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, then a gubernatorial candidate and still the lone Democrat on the Cabinet, was the first to raise concerns about the appointment process for DEP Secretary. In June 2021, Fried contended the Governor lacked the authority in state law to appoint Hamilton without the Cabinet’s unanimous support and a public interview.

However, the Governor highlighted a conflict between state law and the Florida Constitution.

Bypassing Fried’s protest and conforming state law to the constitution, the Legislature passed a law on the final day of the 2022 Session allowing the Governor to send his pick for DEP Secretary to either the Cabinet or the Senate. The bill received minimal support from Democrats, some of whom said they wanted to preserve a two-step check on the Governor.

By staying onboard, Hamilton will oversee an agency budget that grew approximately 64% from the previous fiscal year, according to left-leaning research organization Florida Policy Institute. Florida Policy Institute called the $1.4 billion increase “monumental.”

Hamilton will also continue to be the lead official on Everglades conservation, another DeSantis priority.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at r[email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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