FEMA to Florida: Can you $ay “Climate Change” Now?

March 20, 2015

Florida Center for Investigative Reporting:

Florida and federal officials responded this week to news that state agencies in Gov. Rick Scott’s administration suppressed use of the terms “climate change” and “global warming.”

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, questioned why written testimony from a state official at a hearing in Washington, D.C., involving climate change didn’t contain the words climate change.

deutchtapeCastor’s colleague, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, tweeted a photo of himself with “climate change” written on tape covering his mouth and the hashtag: #DontCensorScience.

On Thursday, state Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, tried to get a state emergency management official to say “climate change” at a hearing in Tallahassee. The official declined.

The issue is in the public eye following reports this month by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, published around the state, that employees and contractors at several Florida agencies, including the departments of Environmental Protection, Transportation, and Health, were told not to use those terms in official documents. Scott has denied the reports.

In the wake of those stories, the Federal Emergency Management Agency warned U.S. states that they may not qualify for federal disaster preparedness funds (see below) if they do not have a plan in place to mitigate the effects of climate change.

FEMA’s State Mitigation Plan — which will go into effect in 2016 — and the Environmental Protection Agency’s national Clean Power Plan are part of the Obama administration’s efforts to combat the effects of climate change.
On Tuesday, Castor grilled Florida Public Service Commission Chairman Art Graham at an Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on the national Clean Power Plan.

“Mr. Graham, it recently came to light that Gov. Rick Scott has an unwritten policy that bans the use of the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming,’” Castor said. “Nowhere in your testimony does it use the terms ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming.’ Is that a product of Gov. Scott’s unwritten policy?”

“Absolutely not,” Graham answered.

Meanwhile, in Tallahassee on Thursday, Clemens asked Bryan Koon, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, if he was aware of the new FEMA rules “dealing with climate change”?

Koon said he was aware, and added: “Future versions of our mitigation plan will be required to have language discussing that issue.”

“What issue is that?” Clemens asked.

“The issue you mentioned earlier,” Koon replied.

Clemens told FCIR after this exchange that he wasn’t sure if Koon was joking.

When asked if Koon was joking, a spokesman responded: “The Florida Division of Emergency Management does not have any policy which prohibits the use of the words ‘climate change.’”

“It would be fun to try and get a different department head to say ‘climate change’ every week,” Clemens added.


In an elegant reply to politicians who aren’t scientists but don’t mind ignoring experts who are, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has come up with a simple solution: States whose governors decide there’s no need to plan for the consequences of a changing climate will no longer qualify for federal grants for emergency preparedness. For climate deniers like Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, Florida’s Rick Scott, or Texas’s Greg Abbott, it’s a pretty clear opportunity for them to put their coastlines and their populations where their mouths are. Governors who refuse to consider climate in their states’ hazard mitigation plans could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in FEMA money.

The new policy would only apply to grants aimed at disaster preparedness — funding for FEMA assistance following natural disasters would not be affected.

“If a state has a climate denier governor that doesn’t want to accept a plan, that would risk mitigation work not getting done because of politics,” said Becky Hammer, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s water program. “The governor would be increasing the risk to citizens in that state” because of his climate beliefs.

Beginning in March 2016, states must assess how climate change may increase threats to their communities and include those estimates in hazard mitigation plans when they apply for federal preparedness funding.

This could prove interesting for Florida, where state employees are literally not allowed to say “climate change” or “global warming,” or they have to put five bucks in the swear jar. (For second offenses, Gov. Scott personally shows up late at night to scare their children.) So we’re guessing Gov. Bat Boy is going to just kiss some big-time grant money goodbye, along with large tracts of Miami. And no, Sen. Inhofe, Oklahoma won’t get any disaster preparedness money for Tornado Alley, even if you wrap up a snowball and mail it to FEMA.

Good god. The federal government is telling the states they’ll actually have to listen to scientists about risks from climate change, at least if they want to qualify for disaster preparedness funding. What sort of madness is this? It’s as outrageous as insurance companies charging people more if they smoke!

Inside Climate News notes that Republican-led states:

constitute eight of the top 10 recipients of this category of FEMA money between 2010 and 2014. Louisiana was No. 1, having received almost $1.1 billion from FEMA for hazard mitigation. New Jersey was third with nearly $379 million, and Texas fourth with almost $343 million.

You know, a bunch of takers.

5 Responses to “FEMA to Florida: Can you $ay “Climate Change” Now?”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Way to go, FEMA! But why wait a year to make the fools speak truth? Strike now while the iron is hot, or the snow is cold, or whatever.

    “What issue is that?” Clemens asked.
    “The issue you mentioned earlier,” Koon replied.
    Clemens told FCIR after this exchange that he wasn’t sure if Koon was joking.

    That’s straight out of SNL or The Daily Show. LOL

  2. labman57 Says:

    Reality-challenged Rick and his cohort of science-denying governors — insisting that it serves no purpose — refuse to wear their seat belts, yet they still expects to be able to get auto insurance at a discounted rate.

  3. […] news about Florida Governor Rick Scott’s ban on the words “climate change’ and “sea level” for state employees has gotten a lot of attention, but a lot of non-floridians may not realize the extreme break from […]

  4. […] Florida, state agencies under the current Governor’s administration are allegedly not allowed …despite the effects these realities are having on the state (rising water levels, destruction of […]

  5. […] that talked about the ban on the word “climate change” – 4 months before the national brouhaha we’ve seen on that – I’m convinced that the subsequent news stories and national […]

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