Earlier this month, it was revealed that Florida’s Republican governor Rick Scott had directed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to stop using terms like “climate change” and “global warming” in any official correspondence or during meetings. According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), that gag order has now claimed its first victim.
PEER made the following assertions in a press release today:
Barton Bibler is a long-time DEP employee who now serves as Land Management Plan Coordinator in its Division of State Lands. He attended a Florida Coastal Managers Forum on February 27, 2015 at which climate change and sea-level rise were discussed among a mix of public attendees. Mr. Bibler’s official notes on this meeting reflected all of that discussion. He was directed to remove any hot button issues, especially explicit references to climate change, and then was given a letter of reprimand for supposedly misrepresenting that the “official meeting agenda included climate change.”
As he was given the reprimand on March 9th, Mr. Bibler was told to not return to work for two days which would be charged against his personal leave time. Two days later he received a “Medical Release Form” requiring that his doctor supply the DEP with an evaluation of unspecified “medical condition and behavior” issues before being allowed to return to work.
As of today, Bibler has not returned to work, and is uncertain if he will even be able to return. PEER is requesting state officials to open an investigation into the handling of Bibler’s “mandatory leave” directive.
If true, this is one of the most egregious abuses of power and Constitutional infringements in the fight to protect the planet.
Governor Scott’s actions of banning discussion about climate change are putting his state in dire peril, as rising sea levels are already threatening large swaths of the Sunshine State.
Climate Hawks Vote founder RL Miller tweeted in response to the news:
If you mention climate change in the Florida of @FLGovScott, you must be mentally ill. Right, @FLDEPNews? http://t.co/ZsK2Ta9fLa
— RL Miller (@RL_Miller) March 18, 2015
Image Credit – The Mole