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Published on April 02, 2024
Tennessee Set to Enact Law to Prohibit Atmospheric Chemical Releases Amid Geoengineering DebateSource: Jschnake, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tennessee is on the verge of passing a state law that aims to block the release of chemicals into the atmosphere for climate control purposes, a move proponents say is about safeguarding the weather, as well as the population from unproven and potentially dangerous technologies. The legislation bans the "intentional injection, release, or dispersion" of such substances strictly intended to alter temperature, weather, or sunlight intensity within the state's borders, according to The Tennessean.

Debate in the chambers has seen a blending of genuine conservation worries and unfounded conspiracy theories, such as “chemtrails.” "If you look up — one day, it’ll be clear. The next day they will look like some angels have been playing tic-tac-toe. They’re everywhere. I’ve got pictures on my phone with X's right over my house. For years they denied they were doing anything," Republican Sen. Frank Niceley remarked at a hearing about the bill last month, as reported by NBC News.

Despite these contentious beginnings, the measure has garnered support and is one signature away from becoming law. Critics, however, argue that such legislation legitimizes unproven conspiracies – a sentiment echoed by scientists outside the political field. Justin Mankin, a climate scientist at Dartmouth University, referred to the chemtrails conspiracy as "conspiratorial nonsense," while emphasizing that it has confused by conflating unrelated technologies under one dubious banner, as cited by NBC News.

Nevertheless, the bill's supporters continue to cite fears of atmospheric tampering. Rep. Monty Fritts (R-Kingston) claimed there was "widespread documentation" on attempts to manage climate change and solar impact through chemical means, an assertion lacking substantive evidence, according to experts. Fritts has presented federal funding for aerosol research as professed proof of government plans to toy with the atmosphere, as per WKRN.

Tennessee is not alone in this push against geoengineering. Several states, including Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Dakota, have seen similar bills introduced or discussed.