Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wide Praise for Scott's Choice; Shipyard Executive Will Lead Florida's Department of Environmental Protection

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wide Praise for Scott's Choice; Shipyard Executive Will Lead Florida's Department of Environmental Protection

Article excerpt

Byline: STEVE PATTERSON and DAVID BAUERLEIN

Gov.-elect Rick Scott on Monday selected a shipyard executive who serves on the Jacksonville Port Authority to run Florida's Department of Environmental Protection.

The choice of Herschel Vinyard, business operation director for BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards, drew approval from industrial and environmental advocates alike.

"The good news is Herschel understands the issues of the St. Johns River," said Neil Armingeon of the St. Johns Riverkeeper organization. "I know Herschel and would hope that if we had some issues he would give us an audience and hear what we're worried about."

Vinyard, 46, practiced environmental law and was vice president of Atlantic Marine Holding Co. before the company was acquired by BAE, a defense contractor.

"Herschel is a man of deep environmental knowledge and practical business experience. He has a love for our great state's natural resources and a passion for job creation," Scott said in a statement announcing his choice, which still needs approval by the Cabinet and Florida Senate.

He will replace Mimi Drew, a career environmental administrator who took over last year. The job involves running an agency that had more than 3,500 employees and a $1.5 billion budget for tasks ranging from regulating air and water polluters to operating the state's park system.

SINGING HIS PRAISES

Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton called the appointment "a win for both Florida's natural resources and the state's economic development efforts." Peyton appointed Vinyard to the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission in 2007 and to the JPA in 2008.

Environmental issues have not played a large factor in his conduct on either board. He at times questioned the return on city-offered economic development incentives during his time on the first board, and asked about the port's finances in the second appointment.

A longtime industry advocate described Vinyard as a consensus builder who can see many sides to an issue and express them clearly.

"He's very deliberative. He doesn't make quick decisions. …

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