A dozen members of a climate change advocacy group dumped 43,000 petitions for an investigation and a public records request at Gov. Rick Scott’s office Friday.
Forecast the Facts, a group “dedicated to ensuring that Americans hear the truth about climate change,” according to its website, wants to get to the bottom of whether Scott unofficially banned the terms “climate change” and “global warming” from state reports.
Scott has denied banning the terms.
“All we have to do is figure out who’s telling the truth. And so that’s what we’re asking,” said Ralph Wilson, a Forecast the Facts member.
The group wants the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s inspector general to conduct an investigation and for Scott’s office to produce records of him using the phrase “climate change” with agency officials.
They might have some trouble getting those records.
After a lawsuit involving property near the Governor’s mansion uncovered that Scott used his private email account for public business without forwarding it to his public email account – contrary to his prior statements – Scott’s office now says he doesn’t use email at all for public business, the Orlando Sentinel reported this week.
Scott reiterated his denials Friday during an event at Full Sail University in Winter Park.
“Of course it’s not true. People can talk what they want to talk about in state government,” Scott said.
The controversy started earlier this month when the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting quoted former Florida Department of Environmental Protection officials saying the phrases “climate change” and “global warming” were scrubbed from their official reports. Subsequent articles quoted officials at different agencies saying they were pressed to keep the terms out of their official vocabulary.
Wilson believes the alleged ban is important because it can affect the work agencies do in Florida, a flat, peninsular state at great risk of rising sea levels due to warmer temperatures.
“The challenges that Florida will face in the next 100 years will be significant,” Wilson said. “The ability of the Department of Environmental Protection to do its job relies on the scientific integrity of the work they are able to do.”
But Scott says he’s focused on solutions, even though he won’t name the problem.
“Here is what I’ve focused on. There’s always a debate on this issue, but the truth is what we care about is, we care about solutions,” Scott said.
Scott touted funding for beach restoration efforts and land buying, although environmental groups say those efforts fall short of funding in previous years.
Democratic lawmakers are starting to use the scandal as a cudgel against Scott. Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, needled Florida Division of Emergency Management director Bryan Koon on Thursday over the issue. He asked about whether new federal requirements would force Florida to develop a plan to combat climate change or lose funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Koon noted the state’s plan isn’t due until 2018, but wouldn’t say “climate change” despite prompting by Clemens, who later suggested tongue-in-cheek that the state use the phrase “atmospheric reemployment” instead to gain the favor of Scott.
Scott though isn’t worried about losing federal grant money.
“If we have issues, we’ve worked with FEMA, like flooding, things like that,” Scott said, pointing to FEMA administrator Craig Fugate, the former Florida emergency management chief. “We’ve worked with FEMA very well.”
Original article here.