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Senator Bill Nelson Speaks Out Against Government Employee Ban On Climate Change

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Climate change remains a debatable topic. Florida Gov. Rick Scott doesn't believe it's happening and has reportedly gone to great lengths to make a point, banning the use of the term in official documents. This didn't sit well with Sen. Bill Nelson, who filed legislation this week taking away restrictions on public discussion of climate change.

A part of a larger budget proposal, Nelson's bill could be voted on before Friday, deciding once and for all if politicians can discourage talks of climate change. The Florida senator spoke on the floor Thursday, saying that he wants it to be clear that "public science cannot be muzzled" and that he doesn't support censorship.

"Scientists simply must have the tools and the ability to tell us what they observe, without limitation on the terms that they can speak," he added.

Nelson was originally spurred into filing the bill when talks of Senate moving to prevent NASA from further studying the Earth rose and in response to two bills under consideration in the House of Representatives. The bills limit the kinds of science that may be used by the Environmental Protection Agency to base its regulations and disqualifies climate scientists from participating on certain committees in the EPA.

If Nelson's bill is passed, it would place a procedural hurdle to considerations in the Senate regarding future legislation aiming to censor any federal agency's decision to use science related speech to climate change. At the lower levels, this will also keep federal agencies from imposing limitations on employee use of terms pertaining to the issue.

The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting published a report earlier in the month showing the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have been ordered to not use the terms "global warming" and "climate change" in official communications or reports. However, the DEP isn't the only one affected.

When officials from the Florida Public Service Commission and the Division of Emergency Management were being grilled in a hearing, they too were unable to say the term "climate change."

This ban is problematic because Florida has been considered to be one of the states that will be most affected by the effects of climate change. And even if climate change is still being debated, censoring the term doesn't help in proving a point.

Photo: Jon Worth | Flickr

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