No such policy exists, the spokesperson insists. There is no Florida policy forbidding state employees to use ... that term for ... you know ... the altered status of weather over the long term. And you know that press spokespeople always tell the truth.
Now a Florida employee has filed a complaint, saying he was punished for using the term "climate change" in job-related writing. Representing Florida Department of Environmental Protection employee Barton Bibler is the whistleblower group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which is calling for an investigation by the DEP's Inspector General into whether the term "climate change" is actually forbidden to be used by state employees — and whether this violates Florida's open government law. Bibler was reprimanded for reporting in written notes that members of the public had used the term "climate change" in an open meeting. He was told not to return to work without a note from his doctor — apparently saying that he was no longer suffering from the illness of using forbidden terminology.
The brouhaha started when the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting on March 8, 2015, published an investigative piece documenting, from interviews with multiple state employees, that the administration of Republican Gov. Rick Scott verbally told employees not to use the terms "climate change," "global warming," or "sustainability." Reporter Tristram Korten did the story, which was picked up by major national media and top TV comedians.
- "Scott’s Climate Change Gag Order Claims a Victim," Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), release of March 18, 2015.
- "In Florida, Officials Ban Term ‘Climate Change’," Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, March 8, 2015, by Tristram Korten. The FCIR's main web page includes links to several follow-up stories on the same subject.