A Florida state employee has been reprimanded and told not to come to work after Gov. Rick Scott's (R) administration banned the use of the terms "climate change" and "global warming."
Earlier this month, reports said that officials in the Scott administration ordered Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) administrators not to use the terms in documents or meetings because they asserted that the climate science behind global warming was not a "true fact."
According to the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Scott's ban claimed its first victim earlier this month.
A press release from PEER said that Barton Bibler, who works as DEP Land Management Plan Coordinator, had attended a Florida Coastal Managers Forum and took notes when attendees discussed climate change.
"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,'" the statement noted. "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."
Before he was allowed to return to work, DEP required that that Bibler’s doctor complete a "Medical Release Form," and evaluate him for an unspecified “medical condition and behavior."
“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,” PEER Director Jerry Phillips explained. “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.”
PEER has called on the DEP Office of Inspector General to investigate the department for mishandling Bibler’s reprimand.
"Not just the employees but the citizens of Florida should demand a full investigation into what the heck is going on inside DEP and whether we can expect more cases like this,” Phillips insisted. “Under Governor Scott, the Department of Environmental Protection functions like a gulag where those in servitude who show any spark of honesty are simply made to disappear.”
It was not immediately clear when, if ever, Bibler would be allowed to return to work.