Former DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein joins American Flood Coalition as senior adviser

Former Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein is bringing his eco-expertise to the national level as a new senior adviser to the American Flood Coalition.

Valenstein, who in May resigned from his post as the state’s top environmental official after four years, joins “a growing team” at the nationwide alliance of cities, elected officials, military leaders, businesses and civic groups working on sea level rise, an AFC press note said.

“We are pleased to welcome to AFC Noah Valenstein, a Florida leader I have enjoyed working with over the past years,” AFC Executive Director Melissa Roberts said in a statement. “With his deep experience in flood resilience and state government, he will help us lead in finding proactive solutions to frequent flooding and rising seas.”

Valenstein was the first Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary to serve under two consecutive governors, Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis. Last year, he took on a dual role as the state’s second Chief Resilience Officer after its first, Julia Nesheiwat, left to become former President Donald Trump’s Homeland Security Adviser.

In that job, he led the creation of the state’s Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection, which manages nearly 5 million acres of submerged lands and coastal uplands.

But on May 4, he and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried had a testy exchange during a Cabinet meeting over a reported letter to his department predicting there would be a breach at Piney Point, a former phosphate plant that in April leaked massive amounts of contaminated water into Tampa Bay.

Fried, who was rumored to be considering a run for Governor at the time, took several shots at Valenstein and DeSantis, at one point saying, “we are not going to allow Noah or this administration to push (environmental disasters) under the rug and say everything is going to be OK.”

He resigned later that month but gave no reason in a letter to DeSantis dated May 8.

Valenstein will join several other senior advisers at the AFC, including Green Business Certification Inc. board member George Bandy Jr., former Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason, Climate Resilience Consulting founder and President Joyce Coffee, Core Concepts Leadership co-founder Jake Johansson, Maryland League of Conservative Voters Education Fund Board Chair Chuck Porcari, Global Resilience Institute Senior Fellow Josh Sawislak, AccelerateH2O Executive Director Richard Seline and Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management co-founder and CEO Chauncia Willis.

Other recent additions to the group’s Executive Advisory Board include former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Hawaii Public Utilities Commissioner Leo Asuncion and Blue Meridian Partners’ Laurel Blatchford.

Valenstein is the founding partner of consulting firm Brightwater Strategies. His activities there, the AFC press note said, include providing “guidance, lobbying and external affairs support to public and private sector clients.”

His expertise and insights are a valuable addition to the AFC, which boasts more than 260 members across 20 states, Roberts said.

“In this already active storm season,” she said, “state leaders nationwide are seeking innovative strategies to address flooding.”

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