Florida Democrat Bill Nelson used the annual Senate vote-a-rama to dis Republican Gov. Rick Scott's alleged ban on the terms "climate change" and "global warming."
Nelson has an amendment pending aimed at blocking federal agencies from censoring speech related to climate change. It would set up a procedural hurdle to Senate consideration of any future legislation that censors a federal agency's use of climate change science.
Nelson called it "common sense" to protect those terms during a Thursday morning speech. "But we have all read news reports at the state level, at the local level, maybe even at the federal level that, indeed, some folks are trying to muzzle scientists from speaking about the science involving the oceans, the atmosphere, climate and the weather."
Don't "muzzle" scientists, Nelson begs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Scott has denied ordering officials to not to use the phrase, but former Florida officials have come forward claiming they were warned that using the terms would bring unwanted attention to their projects. They were forced to use euphemisms such as “nuisance flooding” instead of "sea-level rise," according to a report from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.
Nelson's office said he was spurred by recent talk in the Senate of preventing NASA from studying the Earth and by two bills currently under consideration in the House that would limit the kinds of science the Environmental Protection Agency could use as a basis for its regulations, and prevent climate scientists from serving on certain committees at the EPA.
In addition to subtly slamming Scott for putting a "muzzle" on scientists, Nelson used the amendment as an opportunity to share one of his favorite memories with C-SPAN viewers — his brief stint as an astronaut.
"When I start talking about the atmosphere, I can't help but flashback 29 1/2 years ago, looking out the window of a spacecraft back at our planet," Nelson said, fondly recalling the six days he spent orbiting the Earth on the space shuttle Columbia. The trip was perk of holding the gavel on the House subcommittee with jurisdiction over NASA in the 1980s. Nelson reminisced about his distant view of "the atmosphere that sustains our life."
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