October 22, 2020

Activists want probe of alleged Florida ‘climate change’ word ban

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Activists-want-probe-of-alleged-Florida-climate-change-word-banBy Doug G. Ware From UPI

Friday, advocates delivered 43,000 petitions to the statehouse calling for the probe.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., March 21 (UPI) — Environmental advocates in Florida are asking for an investigation into claims that an unwritten policy exists within the state government that prohibits its workers from using the terms “climate change” or “global warming” when speaking in an official capacity.

About a dozen members of the environmental group Forecast the Facts showed up to the state capitol building in Tallahassee Friday to deliver more than 40,000 electronically signed petitions asking for the probe, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

The group members also demonstrated against such a policy by wearing duct tape over their mouths with the words “climate change” written across it. The petitions ask for an investigation by the inspector general of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Activists say they want to know whether Gov. Rick Scott has ever directed or encouraged state agencies to avoid using the terms in official government communications and documents.

“This is our initial attempt,” Florida State University student and Forecast the Facts spokesman Ralph Wilson said in a report by CBS Miami Friday. “If it turns out there exists no correspondence, then obviously we can naturally move on to look for other executive-branch correspondence between the office and the agency.”

Allegations of the directive were first reported earlier this month by the Florida Center For Investigative Reporting, which cited former DEP employees who had claimed they were told to avoid the phrases. Forecast the Facts has submitted a public records request of communications between Gov. Scott and the DEP that reference the terms “climate change” and “global warming.”

Gov. Scott’s office has officially denied the allegation and insisted that the second term Republican governor is working to address and resolve the state’s environmental concerns.

“That’s untrue … Look, there’s lots of conversations about this issue,” Gov. Scott said in response to a reporter’s question about the alleged phrase ban.

“The executive branch has denied these claims, so we feel like this is fairly easy to resolve. All we have to do is figure out who’s telling the truth,” Wilson said.

Thursday, state senator Jeff Clemens attempted to get Gov. Scott’s chief of emergency management to utter the phrase “climate change” during testimony before a senate subcommittee, with no success. Bryan Koon had several opportunities to use the phrase, but never did.

Clemens asked whether states are required to have climate change plans on the books in order to receive federal emergency funds that Koon’s agency has requested. Koon responded in the affirmative, referring to “language to that effect.”

“I used ‘climate change,'” Clemens said, “But I’m suggesting that maybe as a state, we use the term ‘atmospheric reemployment.’ That might be something that the governor could get behind.”

Lawmakers in the room erupted with laughter, and Koon twice more referred to climate change without using the term.

Like many Republicans, Scott indicated that he was skeptical of man made climate change during his first successful gubernatorial campaign in 2010. But he seemed to widen his view on it by the time of last year’s campaign, when he consulted with several climate scientists, CBS Miami’s report said.

Earlier this month, a DEP employee was reprimanded and sent home after he publicly stated his opinions on the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline and climate change. A land management plan coordinator, the employee was also told he couldn’t return to the office until he had been medically cleared by a doctor. The DEP said he was disciplined for poor performance, insubordination and conduct unbecoming a public employee.

The Florida chapter of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) said the DEP’s decision to discipline the worker is another indication that allegations of the phrase bans are true.

“This ludicrous ban has permeated the rank-and-file of the agency’s personnel who have, by now, gotten the message that if they are to keep their jobs they should not seriously suggest that climate change exists,” wrote Florida PEER Director Jerry Phillips in a filed complaint.

IMAGE: The Florida State Seal on display in the Old Florida State Capitol building in Tallahassee, Florida. Photo: Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

For more on this story go to: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2015/03/21/Activists-want-probe-of-alleged-Florida-climate-change-word-ban/1181426918696/#ixzz3V2rzxbSh

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