Yesterday, the South Dakota legislature passed a resolution telling public schools to teach “balance” about the “prejudiced” science of climate change by a vote of 37–33. Earlier language that ascribed “astrological” influences to global warming was stripped from the final version.
This act of conspiracy-driven ideology is hardly alone — a Wonk Room investigation has found at least fifteen state legislatures attempting to prevent limits on greenhouse gas pollution. The states of Alabama and Utah have already adopted resolutions calling for the overturn of the Environmental Protection Agency’s global warming endangerment finding, with legislators in thirteen more states in tow. Several of these “Dirty Air Act” resolutions argue that the overwhelming scientific consensus on the threat of manmade global warming is actually a conspiracy:
KENTUCKY: “WHEREAS, a recent disclosure of communications among scientists associated with the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia has cast serious doubt upon the scientific data that have purportedly supported the finding that manmade carbon dioxide has been a material cause of global warming or global climate change . . .”
MARYLAND: “WHEREAS, E–mail and other communications between climate researchers around the globe discovered as part of the recent “climate–gate” controversy indicate that there is a well–organized and ongoing effort to manipulate global temperature data and incorporate tricks to substantiate the theory of climate change . . . “
OKLAHOMA: “WHEREAS, intense public scrutiny has revealed how unsettled the science is on climate change and the unwillingness of many of the world’s climatologists to share data or even entertain opposing viewpoints on the subject . . .”
UTAH: “WHEREAS, emails and other communications between climate researchers around the globe, referred to as ‘Climategate,’ indicate a well organized and ongoing effort to manipulate global temperature data in order to produce a global warming outcome . . .”
Every resolution makes the false claim that protecting citizens from hazardous climate pollution would hurt the economy, instead of recognizing the potential of a green recovery. Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Alaska lawmakers talk about being “dependent” on the coal and oil industries whose lobbyists are fighting climate action. Several of the resolutions, drafted early last year, call on Congress to reject the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act, which passed the House of Representatives in June but has languished in the Senate. The Alaska and West Virginia resolutions support Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) effort to rewrite the Clean Air Act (S.J.Res. 26), and Alabama’s resolution calls for the passage of Rep. Earl Pomeroy’s (D-ND) similar effort (H.R. 4396).
The most legally bizarre resolution is Arizona state senator Sylvia Allen’s (R-AZ) “tenther” argument that the U.S. Congress does not have the Constitutional authority to regulate greenhouse gas pollution. Allen also believes the Earth is 6000 years old. The other Arizona resolution, along with the Kentucky, Virginia, and Washington resolutions, would attempt to block state enforcement of global warming rules.
These efforts to overturn the Clean Air Act and replace science with conspiracy theories are being supported by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a national organization that brings conservative state lawmakers together with industry lobbyists. ALEC promotes a resolution opposing the endangerment finding drafted by its Natural Resources Task Force, which includes over 120 lawmakers from around the nation and a similarly sized group of corporate representatives. Although ALEC does not have an official position on the validity of climate science, the organization is “actively involved in helping people get together and share ideas,” a representative told the Wonk Room. For example, the spring ALEC task force meeting will feature Exxon Mobil-backed global warming denier Paul Driessen, the author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death.
States With Resolutions Opposing Greenhouse Endangerment FindingStateBillSponsorStatusNotesAKHJR 49Stoltze (R)PendingSupports MurkowskiALHJR 218Gipson (R)EnactedSupports PomeroyAZHB 2442SCR 1050Burges (R) Allen (R)PendingBlocks state enforcement Tenther resolutionFLH 1535Adams (R)PendingOpposes Waxman-MarkeyGAHR 1357SR 958Stephens (R) Pearson (R)PendingSupports overturnILHR 961 SR 666Phelps (D) Forby (D)PendingOpposes Waxman-MarkeyKSSR 1809Natural Resources CommitteePendingOpposes “administrative fiat” by EPAKYHJR 20Fischer (R)PendingCites hacked emails to block state enforcementMDHJR 13Jenkins (R)PendingCites “climate change conspiracy” to oppose EPAMOHCR 46HCR 59Funderburk (R) Brown (R)PendingOpposes Waxman-Markey, EPAOKSCR 41Lamb (R)Adopted by SenateCites “unsettled” science to support overturnUTHJR 12Gibson K (R)AdoptedCites “Climategate” to support EPA withdrawalVAHB1357Morefield (R)Pending”Carbon dioxide shall not be considered air pollution”WAS 6477Stevens (R)PendingBlocks state enforcementWVHCR 34Shott (R)PendingCites “vigorous, legitimate, and substantive” scientific debate to support Murkowski
At Legum’s New Line, Judd Legum discusses the disastrous consequences for Maryland if Del. Charles Jenkins’s petition were to pass.