A Maine lawmaker has introduced a bill that will safeguard political speech—with a special focus on climate change deniers.
Republican Rep. Lawrence Lockman, who told the Associated Press that whether or not human activity is causing global warming is an open question, proposed legislation that would ban the state from prosecuting people for their “climate change policy preferences.” The measure prohibits the state from discriminating against climate change deniers with respect to employment and hiring, and bars any state agencies or departments from refusing to purchase goods and services, or awarding grants and contracts, on the basis of a person’s opinion regarding climate change.
According to NASA, 97 percent of scientists acknowledge that our planet is getting warmer due to human activity.
The bill is in response the lawsuit filed by a group of state attorneys general, including Maine’s Janet Mills, against Exxon Mobil in 2016. The suit alleges that the oil giant misled the public about global warming and should pay a financial penalty.
Lockman told the Associated Press that the bill wasn’t just for climate deniers, because it would protect the free speech of others as well. “I don’t want to see a Republican attorney general issuing subpoenas for the records of progressive or liberal think tanks or public policy groups to chill their free speech,” he said.
But Democratic lawmakers do not seem convinced. Lois Galgay Reckitt, a Democrat in the state legislature, said that the entire Democratic caucus would oppose the bill, as would some Republicans.
“The issue for me is I’m a scientist and I live near the ocean,” she said to the Associated Press. “It’s absolutely clear to me that climate change is happening and it worries me. I will fight this tooth and nail.”
A public hearing is scheduled for April 6.