New GOP Bill in Montana: "Global Warming Is Beneficial" New GOP Bill in Montana: "Global Warming Is Beneficial"
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New GOP Bill in Montana: "Global Warming Is Beneficial"

by Ben Jervey

February 20, 2011
I wish Joe Read, the Republican state representative from Montana's 15th district, was right. I wish that we could sign a law that overturns the laws of science and nature. That we could write legislation that made it so that "global warming is beneficial" and that "reasonable amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere have no verifiable impacts on the environment." Of course, we can't legislate away the hard physics and chemistry that dictate climate change. But that isn't stopping Joe Read from trying.

Behold, Montana's House Bill Number 549, "an act stating Montana's position on global warming":

The legislature finds that to ensure economic development in Montana and the appropriate management of Montana’s natural resources it is necessary to adopt a public policy regarding global warming.

(2) The legislature finds:

(a) global warming is beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana;

(b) reasonable amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere have no verifiable impacts on the environment; and

(c) global warming is a natural occurrence and human activity has not accelerated it.

Wonk Room's Brad Johnson scored an interview with Read, (who I can't imagine was expecting to be called a "zombie" in press coverage!), who admits that the proposal is "radical" and that his motivation is purely ideological. A few telling lines:

The science is driven by grant money. It’s all on the side for writing studies that global warming is happening. There’s nothing on the side that says I wish to write a paper that global warming is not an issue. Money has been flowing into the grant purse.

I have a very hard time believing that anyone calling themselves a scientist who "wished to write a paper that global warming is not an issue" couldn't find a some very deep-pocketed underwriters for such predetermined "research." (The folks at Desmogblog could probably point them to some eager sponsors not far removed from ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and other fossil fueled players.) If I were a young science grad student with absolutely no morals whatsoever, I would be awfully tempted to shirk scientific integrity for the much fatter paycheck that Big Carbon could write than the otherwise meager salary scraped together from government grants.

But I'm straying from the point. The point is: This guy in Montana who was actually elected to represent a district that is, right now, facing the impacts of warming, wants to vote away those  facts. If only it were so easy!

Cigarettes killing too many people? Write a law saying they don't! Think gravity is an unnecessary burden on our airline industry? Let's vote it away! Evolution doesn't fit your religious beliefs? Outlaw it!

If the concept of legislating away science sounds familiar, that's because it's essentially what House Energy and Commerce Chair Fred Upton is trying to do with the Energy Tax Prevention Act. Even that instance, however, isn't nearly as blatant an affront on science. Upton's proposal to strip the EPA of its court-ordered obligation to regulate greenhouse gases is, at least, one step removed from the underlying science that obligates the EPA to act. Read is suggesting a law that literally and immediately refutes broad scientific consensus. Amazing. And terrifying.

Photo (cc) by Parkerdr on Wikimedia Commons

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New GOP Bill in Montana: "Global Warming Is Beneficial"