GOP leader: Minnesotans won't complain if climate change causes state to get 2 degrees hotter

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka thinks the climate emergency is panicking people.

Sen. Paul Gazelka, the Senate Majority Leader in the Minnesota Legislature, says he doesn't think "anyone will complain" if climate change causes the state to warm by 2 degrees celsius.

The leading Republican in the Minnesota Senate made the statement on Twitter, in response to a tweet by WCCO reporting on Minneapolis' decision to declare a "climate emergency."

"Stop scaring Minnesotans! Clean energy yes, panic no," he wrote. "The sky is not falling. We are taking better care of the environment. We can focus on clean energy that is reliable and affordable. If Minnesota is 2 degrees warmer in 100 years, I don’t think anyone will complain."

The move by Minneapolis comes after a group of 11,000 scientists across the globe put their names to a document warning of a "climate emergency" facing Earth, noting that greenhouse gas emissions "are still rapidly rising, with increasingly damaging effects on the Earth's climate."

"An immense increase of scale in endeavors to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering due to the climate crisis," they said.

The Paris Climate Agreement, which the United States is in the process of removing itself from at the direction of the Trump Administration, had sought to limit the increase in global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees celsius – or 3.6F.

Earlier this year, two scientists from the University of Minnesota said that Minnesota is already one of the fastest-warming states in the nation, and if that temperature increases were to continue, it will eventually lead to more extreme rain events, flooding, and forest fires, an increase in pests and invasive species, the potential loss or reduction in fauna such as the loon, and impact the state's winter economy as ice conditions become more unstable.

NASA meanwhile has said that a 2C increase would result in more severe heatwaves globally, expose hundreds of millions of people to water scarcity, and lead to the extinction of more than 105,000 species of insects, plants and invertebrates.

Bring Me The News asked Sen. Gazelka whether he stood by his comment about whether anyone "will complain" if such a temperature rise were to lead to the changes described above.

We also asked him what he classes as "clean energy," and to provide more context to his comment that "we are taking better care of the environment," considering the U.S. saw a spike in fossil fuel emissions in 2018 after several years of decline.

His response did not address the 2-degree question, instead focusing on the clean energy query posed by BMTN.

"Clean energy that won't bankrupt Minnesotans is the goal," he said.

"Energy can be both affordable and reliable for every home, business, school, and hospital, and also reduce the impact on the environment. Both of these points are priorities for me and Minnesotans."

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Last week, the Minnesota Senate Republicans Caucus said it will soon release a revised version of its Clean Energy First proposal.

The plan states preference that green technology be used for new power generation proposals put by utilities before the Public Utilities Commission. It also states that the PUC can approve new fossil fuel power if a utility company is unable to "affordably and reliably" meet its power needs with cleaner energy, per MinnPost.

The proposal has won the backing of some Republicans, Democrats, and clean energy groups, though there is opposition to it within the GOP as well as from officials on the Iron Range. 

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