Florida environment official dismissed for mentioning climate change at work
The complaint filed Thursday by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) comes after reports that Employees from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection were told to avoid terms like “climate change” and “global warming” in official communications after Governor Rick Scott took office.
Barton Bibler is a long term employee of the DEP and until the recent disagreement with his superiors was in the position of Land Management Plan Coordinator in the division of State Lands.
He is in trouble for doing nothing more than talking about climate change at an official meeting and then making notes of that discussion in the minutes of the meeting.
During a session of the Florida Coastal Managers Forum on February 27 at which climate change and sea level were explicitly being discussed, Mr Bibler was told not to mention climate change.
He was then given a letter of reprimand and on March 9 was told not to return to work and that he would be charged for his personal leave time. Two days after this he received a medical release form requiring him to have a medical examination to look at his behavior and “medical condition” before being allowed to return to work.
Mr Bibler has no idea if he will ever be allowed to return to his job.
However, it seems that the actions of Florida Govenor Rick Scott and other state officials who operate a policy of rejecting climate change has backfired.
“Bart Bibler has fallen through a professional looking glass in a Florida where the words ‘climate change’ may not be uttered, or even worse, written down,” stated Florida PEER Director Jerry Phillips, a former DEP attorney.
“If anyone needs mental health screening it is Governor Rick Scott and other officials telling state workers to pretend that climate change and sea-level rise do not exist,” he added.
As a result of Mr Bibler’s complaint the PEER has demanded that the DEP Office of Inspector General answer some important questions as part of an official investigation, namely, if topics such as climate change sustainability and sea level rise are off limits to DEP employees and whether censoring what employees say at official meetings is breaking the law.