Sole says leaving Florida DEP was a “tough choice”

Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Sole said Wednesday that his absence from the department since the oil spill and the temporary capping of the well on July 15 hastened his departure from the agency.

Sole told Gov. Charlie Crist on Monday that he is leaving the department on Sept. 10 to seek other opportunities. Sole didn’t discuss those opportunities during a conference call Wednesday with a House work group looking into the oil spill.

But he did note that he had spent more than 100 days at the state Emergency Operations Center since the spill began in April while Deputy Secretary Mimi Drew had been pretty much running the department. Crist named her to become interim secretary on Sept. 10.

With the leaking oil well increasingly under control, Sole said he made the decision to leave now rather than to go back to his “day job” at DEP for a couple more months until a new governor takes office. “It was a tough choice — not an easy one for me having been there 20 years,” he said. “Unfortunately I knew that day would come as soon I put my name in the hat for this job.”

Replied, Rep. Trudi Williams, R-Fort Myers: “You’re the best DEP secretary we’ve had in a long time. … I hate to see you go. Mimi is going to do a great job.”

(Story provided by the Florida Tribune. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting