Tech & Science

Under Rick Scott, Florida Environment Officials Said to be Barred From Saying ‘Climate Change’

11-4-14 Rick Scott win
Republican Rick Scott and his wife Ann greet supporters after his re-election, in the midterm elections, at a night party in Bonita Springs, Florida. Scott has clashed with Ayala over the death penalty Steve Nesius/Reuters

Officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have been barred from using the phrases “climate change” and “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports since shortly after Governor Rick Scott came into office in 2011, according to a report from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’ ” Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013, told FCIR. “That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”

Kristina Trotta, another former DEP employee who worked in Miami, recounted to FCIR a 2014 staff meeting in which her supervisor told her not to use the terms “climate change” and “global warming.”

“We were told that we were not allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact,” she said.

Both the DEP and Gov. Scott’s administration denied to FCIR that any such policy exists.

In 2010, Gov. Scott famously stated that he was not “convinced that there’s any man-made climate change.” By 2014, his position appeared to soften, when he skirted a question about climate by responding, “I’m not a scientist.” But as scientists who spoke with FCIR point out, Scott is the governor of the state perhaps most susceptible to devastation from the climate change effect of rising sea levels, so his reluctance to engage on the topic may wind up putting Floridians and their property at risk.

“You have to start real planning, and I’ve seen absolutely none of that from the current governor,” geologist and University of Miami professor Harold Wanless said.

Last year, reporter Mike de Souza revealed that it was Canadian policy to bar government meteorologists from talking about climate change in public. 

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