VIDEO: Legislators Choke with Laughter as Florida Official Struggles to Avoid Saying "Climate Change"

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 20 Mar 2015 18:31:00 GMT

Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s secret climate-change gag rule turned a state legislative hearing into a screwball farce last Thursday. Legislators chortled as the state’s top emergency-management official struggled under the dry questioning of state Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake Worth) to avoid saying the words “climate change.” At one point, Clemens offered a suggestion to Bryan Koon, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, recommending Floridians use the euphemism “atmospheric re-employment” as one that would be more acceptable to the governor, an outspoken denier of the science that the continued burning of fossil fuels is destabilizing the climate system and threatening Florida with rapid sea level rise.

The hearing room of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development broke out with laughter, including the legislator sitting next to Clemens, Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg).

The conversation about the new FEMA guidelines that include climate change considerations continued, with Clemens needling Koon’s apparent fear of saying the words “climate change.”

“My understanding at this point is that future versions of our mitigation plan will be required to have language discussing that issue,” Koon said.

“What issue is that?” Clemens replied.

“Uh, the issue you mentioned earlier, regarding, um . . .”

At this point, the chair of the committee, Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater), doubled over in his chair, choking with laughter.

A spokesman told the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting: “The Florida Division of Emergency Management does not have any policy which prohibits the use of the words ‘climate change.’ ”

The exchange was featured on The Daily Show’s Wednesday episode. Stewart piled on with other climate-change euphemisms, including “moisture inconvenience” and “state-wide jacuzzification.”


CLEMENS: You were in DC last time when we went through this particular issue and as you said these are federal funds. Are you familiar with the new procedures FEMA issued just this week dealing with climate change and the, the fact that they’re going to be requesting or demanding that states have a climate change plan before they’re going to, to issue some of these preparedness dollars?

KOON: I am.

CLEMENS: Is this going to affect those moneys at all?

KOON: It will not. That, that one refers to, uh, a state’s hazard mitigation plan which is done every five years, uh, and the next iterations of them will required to have, uh, language to that effect.

OFF-CAMERA: What were those words, Mr. Chairman? What were the words you were using?”

CLEMENS: I used ‘climate change,’ but I’m suggesting that maybe as a state we use ‘atmospheric re-employment.’ That might be something that the governor would . . .


CLEMENS: So, my worry obviously is with these dollars even in a more general sense to make sure we as a state have to come up with some sort of plan to keep our preparedness dollars for hurricanes. I’m assuming that’s something you’re going to speak with the governor about, and trying to take up, so we don’t lose our dollars in the future.

KOON: Yes, Senator. Our next state mitigation plan is due to the feds in 2018 so we have some time, uh, in which to have that conversation.

CLEMENS: Even though that takes place, the edict starts in March of 2016 we only have to . . .

KOON: That’s right, but my understanding at this point is that future versions of our mitigation plan will be required to have language discussing that issue.

CLEMENS: What issue is that?

KOON: Uh, the issue you mentioned earlier, regarding, um . . .


CLEMENS: I’m going to turn the chair back over. Well, maybe I shouldn’t right now.