Officials in Florida have been banned from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in official communications, according to a report published by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting on Sunday.
Former officials and employees from the state Department of Environmental Protection told FCIR that they were warned not to used the terms in their work after Gov. Rick Scott (R) took office in 2011.
“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,'” Christopher Byrd, who served as an attorney in the DEP 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, a former DEP employee in Miami, said her boss told her not to used the terms “climate change” or “global warming” during a 2014 staff meeting.
“We were told that we were not allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact,” Trotta told FCIR.
Although Tiffany Cowie, the Department of Environmental Protection’s press secretary, told FCIR that “DEP does not have a policy on this,” former employees said the unofficial policy began when Scott appointed Herschel Vinyard Jr. as the head of the department.
According to Byrd, his supervisor warned him not to used the term “climate change” shortly after Vinyard started as director of the department.
Jeri Bustamante, a spokesperson for the governor, also denied that there was an official policy on the terms.
Scott has avoided the issue of climate change and refused to acknowledge whether he believes human activity has had an impact on the earth’s climate.
When asked last year whether he thinks man-made climate change has had an impact on the climate, he told the Miami Herald that he “is not a scientist.”
Florida officials still do not use the terms “climate change” and “global warming,” but according to FCIR, state officials have started using the term “sea-level rise” again.