Wyoming Republican Gov. Mark Gordon has agreed to debate his critics over his plans to turn a state reliant on fossil fuels “carbon negative.”
On Friday, 30 state lawmakers joined Secretary of State Chuck Gray to call on the two-term governor to debate the merits of the “carbon negative” policy he recently promoted in a speech at Harvard University.
“It is clear that we have a warming climate,” Gordon said at an event with the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics. “It is clear that carbon dioxide is a major contributor to that change. There is an urgency to addressing this issue and it isn’t only going to be solved by turning off fossil fuels.”
The Wyoming governor, who presides over the nation’s leading coal producer, boasted that “we are the first state that has said we are going to be carbon negative.”
“You can’t really do that without direct air capture or somehow doing carbon capture and sequestration,” Gordon continued.
“As far as we know, the state of Wyoming has not unilaterally decided to wholly abandon our legacy industries, and this is not a decision that the governor can make- our state’s economy is not controlled by any elected official,” read a statement from the Wyoming Freedom Caucus.
“The governor is not capable of defining what ‘carbon negative’ means, that has already been decided by the Biden/AOC ‘green new deal’ crowd,” State Sen. Cheri Steinmetz, who led the statehouse effort to debate Gordon, told The Federalist. “By using their narrative and terminology, he is subjecting Wyoming industry to scrutiny under their terms which asserts that CO2 is a pollutant and by association our industries are polluters.”
Despite the blowback, Gordon doubled down on his commitment to go carbon negative at a meeting with the Western Governors’ Association in Jackson, Wyoming.
“During a press conference held before the event, Gordon said there has been some confusion about what ‘decarbonizing the West’ means,” reported the Cowboy State Daily.
“It is about what we do about carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and how we move forward in an aggressive fashion really to address that issue and understanding how all energy sources have a place,” Gordon said.
Gov. Gordon has made “decarbonizing the West” a top priority as chairman of the Western Governors Association, with a blend of increased renewable energy production and enhanced carbon capture storage. In South Dakota, landowners have faced eminent domain lawsuits as a major carbon capture company constructs a more than 2,000-mile pipeline across the upper Midwest.
“Decarbonizing the West,” Steinmetz warned, “will cost us everything.”
“Wyoming citizens deserve to hear why Governor Gordon believes climate change must be addressed urgently and why he believes that CO2 is a pollutant that causes climate change,” she added.
More than two dozen Republicans in the state legislature responded to the governor’s commitment to demonize carbon with an invitation to debate with scientists from the CO2 Coalition, a climate advocacy group that rejects the narrative blaming carbon for a warming planet.
“On behalf of the people of Wyoming who unquestioningly deserve a say in whether or not our
state turns its back on fossil fuels in favor of ‘green energy,’ we challenge you and your
designated representatives to a face-to-face, public, fair, and factual debate on the issues of
climate change and the purported contribution to it from CO2,” read a letter from 30 lawmakers and the secretary of state. “While climate alarmists claim to act ‘based on the science,’ oddly they do not encourage or join in debate with those who have different views. We believe that in Wyoming, we are better than that. The people of Wyoming are deserving of an open and robust conversation on this issue, to hear both sides of the CO2 debate, and decide for themselves.”
Gordon accepted the invitation on the same day it was sent, according to the Cowboy State Daily. The governor’s office did not respond to The Federalist’s repeated inquiries regarding whether Gordon planned to participate in the scientific forum himself or send representatives to argue on his behalf.
CO2 Coalition Executive Director Gregory Wrightstone wrote in a letter to Rep. John Bear, the chairman of the Wyoming Freedom Caucus, that the climate group was ready “to offer you all our possible assistance with the proposed debate.”
In an interview with The Federalist, Bear said lawmakers sent the governor a follow-up request Tuesday “to go ahead and start firming up some details” for the parties to work with. Lawmakers gave Gordon until Friday.
Bear told The Federalist the public forum would be focused on four claims related to the governor’s discussion at Harvard: whether 1) the Earth is warming, 2) CO2 is causing it, 3) carbon warming needs to be addressed urgently, and 4) Wyoming is going to be the first state to be “carbon negative.”
Gordon backed away from his third point about urgency in his opening message to the 40th annual Governor’s Business Forum on Tuesday.
“Gordon said neither the United States nor Wyoming is in a crisis about how it will address climate change moving forward,” reported the Cowboy State Daily.
“Our ability to advance and move into a future that is responsible and has tremendous opportunity has never been greater or more focused than it has been right here in Wyoming,” Gordon claimed.
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