Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has nominated a top member of his staff who has held positions with environmental nonprofits to become the next head of the state's environmental agency.
Basil Seggos, who has been Cuomo's deputy secretary for the environment since 2013, would become commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation if his nomination Friday by Cuomo is approved by the State Senate.
Seggos would fill the role vacated by former DEC Commissioner Joe Martens, who resigned in June to return to the Open Space Institute, a Manhattan nonprofit he once headed.
"Basil is an exceptional public servant, a strong advocate for the environment, and is dedicated to serving the public both as a member of my administration and as a member of the U.S. military," Cuomo said in a statement.
Seggos called the nomination "a great honor."
"As we continue to confront significant environmental challenges, I look forward to building on this record, hand-in-hand with the department's dedicated and talented staff," he said in a statement.
Seggos' nomination was greeted with optimism by several Long Island environmental advocates.
Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, called his nomination "a terrific choice."
"Basil has a substantive understanding of Long Island's water-protection needs, our illegal dumping crises and land preservation efforts," she said. "He will be able to hit the ground running."
Dick Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, said Seggos was knowledgeable and dedicated.
"Because he's worked in not-for-profit environmental advocacy, he understands where we're all coming from," Amper said. "And he certainly understands the politics of Albany, having worked that closely in the administration. So we're cautiously optimistic."
Seggos has been on Cuomo's staff since 2012. He previously was vice president of business development at the Hugo Neu Corp., a private company focusing on sustainability and recycling, and also held roles at Riverkeeper, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the White House's Council on Environmental Quality, according to a news release issued by Cuomo's office.
He holds a law degree and environmental law certificate from Pace University, and received a bachelor's degree from Trinity College in Hartford. He also is a captain in the Army Reserve.
Marc Gerstman, who had been acting commissioner since Martens' departure, will remain the DEC's executive deputy commissioner.