There were multiple reports a couple of weeks ago that Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), a longtime climate denier, has effectively muzzled state officials when it comes to global warming. Officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection claim to have been ordered not to use the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications.
Scott and his press office have insisted that the reports are wrong and there’s been no such order curtailing DEP officials’ word choice. In the governor’s defense, there’s no documented evidence to the contrary – only anecdotal claims from a wide variety of former employees at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, each of whom said they received unwritten instructions about climate-related words to avoid.
The story took an unsettling turn last week when a DEP employee was “reprimanded, sent home and told to get medical clearance before returning to the office” after criticizing the Keystone XL pipeline project and talking about his concerns surrounding the climate crisis.
But as the Miami Herald reported, the story also took a far more amusing turn at a state Senate hearing last week.
Gov. Rick Scott’s chief of emergency management, Bryan Koon, testifying Thursday before the Legislature, had a half-dozen chances to use the term “climate change.”But he would not say the C-words.
To be sure, it’s sad to see a state official who oversees emergency management go to great lengths to avoid using the words “climate change” out loud at a public hearing, but in this case, hearing lawmakers and the audience literally laughing out loud at the Scott administration official, was also kind of hilarious.
State Sen. Jeff Clemens (D) asked Koon about FEMA requirements that states have “climate change plan” in order to receive preparedness dollars. Koon said he’s aware of the requirements, and going forward, Florida’s hazard mitigation plan will “have language to that effect.”
Note, Koon wouldn’t say “climate change,” only “language to that effect.”
So, Clemens pressed further joking that he’s tempted to use the phrase “atmospheric reemployment” as language the governor might be able to endorse.
Koon added that Florida would, in its next hurricane mitigation plan, include “language discussing that issue.”
“What issue is that?” Clemens asked with a smirk.
“The issue you mentioned earlier,” Koon replied.
If the governor didn’t order officials to avoid the climate-related phrases, it’s hard to imagine why Florida’s chief of emergency management would go to such lengths.
Our pals at “All In with Chris Hayes” had a segment on this the other day that’s worth your time: