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Group hopes petitions will expose whether ‘climate change’ gag order existed

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A public records request or an investigation by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection should reveal whether a policy banning use of terms related to climate change exists, climate activists said Friday.

A Florida Center for Investigative Journalism earlier this month reported there was an unwritten policy at DEP banning terms such as “climate change” and “sea level rise.” Gov. Rick Scott and DEP have denied there was such a policy.

On Friday, about 10 college students protesting with duct tape sealing their lips delivered more than 40,000 petitions to the Governor’s Office requesting an investigation. They also requested public records related to the issue.

“The executive branch has denied these claims,” said Ralph Wilson, a Florida State University student and member of the national group Forecast the Facts.

“We feel this is fairly easy to resolve,” Wilson said. “All we have to do is figure out is who is telling the truth. So that’s what we’re asking — an investigation into whether or not this was the case.”

Floridapolitics.com has requested a response from the governor’s office and DEP and will update this story when one is received.

The petitions request an investigation by DEP Inspector General Candie Fuller into the issue. The records request, Wilson said, seeks emails and records sent from Scott to DEP using the phrase climate change.

“The governor says that (climate change) is something they discuss all the time,” Wilson said. “If that’s true, that will be interesting to find out.”

The Orlando Sentinel reported this week that Scott has quit using any email for state business.

“If it turns out there exists no correspondence,” Wilson said, “then we can move on to looking for other correspondence between the executive branch and the agency.”

Bruce Ritchie (@bruceritchie) covers environment, energy and growth management in Tallahassee. 

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