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Legislating Away Climate Change

Montana State Representative Joe Read doesn’t deny global warming is real. He just thinks it is we’re not causing it—and that it’s a good thing anyway. That’s why the Republican legislator has proposed a bill saying that the state legislature finds that “global warming is beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana.”

But wishing won’t make it so. The legislature can pass whatever laws it wants, but it can’t simply make a problem—or the scientific consensus—go away by declaring it’s not real. While Read may genuinely believe that global warming isn’t man-made and won’t be a problem, passing a law denying it won’t change anything. This is the legislative equivalent of sticking fingers in your ears and yelling, “I can’t hear you.” Ultimately, as University of Montana Professor of Ecology Steve Running says, the legislature can't “repeal the laws of physics.”

Of course, Read is also sponsoring another bill denying the authority of the federal government—in spite of extensive legal precedent to the contrary—to regulate greenhouse gases under the Commerce Clause. After all, if you are going to legislate away reality, why stop at just one bill?

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