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House subcommittee chair cautions against sea level rise “speculation”

TALLAHASSEE — A House subcommittee chairman, who this week during a meeting twice cautioned a state environmental protection official about expressing "speculation" on sea level rise, tells POLITICO Florida that "the world goes through cycles" of climate change.

Rep. Ben Albritton, a Republican from Wauchula and chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, said in an interview that the world may be headed for a cold spell, as he read in a 2011 book written by someone who does not believe that humans contribute to climate change.

"I don't understand sea level rise, global warming — this whole discussion," Albritton said. "I've seen really good data that shows global warming. I read a book recently that had really good data in it that shows we are actually entering into a cooling period that happens about every 200 years."

On Tuesday, Albritton cautioned Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Secretary Drew Bartlett on answering questions from subcommittee members about sea level rise.

"Feel free to answer that if you'd like to," Albritton said. "We want to be very careful of course in providing speculation or personal opinion on something that may be out 5, 10, 15 or 30 years from now, and not building concrete ideas or concrete decisions around this table on something that might be speculation."

In 2014, Gov. Rick Scott touched off controversy during his re-election campaign by dismissing questions about climate change by saying, "I'm not a scientist." He later met in the governor's office with scientists who explained that climate change and sea level rise are occurring because of industrial greenhouse gas emissions.