02/18/2014 09:28 pm ET | Updated Feb 19, 2014

GOP Lawmaker Claims We 'Could Use' Twice As Much Carbon Dioxide In The Atmosphere

A Utah lawmaker has proposed a bill that would limit the state's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, claiming that the atmosphere "could use twice as much carbon dioxide" as it has now.

State Rep. Jerry Anderson (R-Price) introduced H.B. 229, which would change the definition of an air contaminant to exclude "natural components of the atmosphere," such as carbon dioxide, from being defined as contaminants. As the Salt Lake Tribune notes, the legislation would also restrict the state from establishing standards for acceptable atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases below 500 parts per million.

"The carbon dioxide level back in the days of the dinosaurs was considered to be about 600 parts per million. And they seemed to thrive quite well ... The vegetation back in those times was lush," Anderson said during a Tuesday committee hearing on the bill. "I'm thinking we could double the carbon dioxide rate and not have any adverse effects that I can tell. In Nebraska, they did a study and said basically that in our dry climates out here, we would be very much benefited by having more carbon dioxide than we have now."

According to Utah Public Radio, Anderson said he doesn't see carbon dioxide levels as a factor in climate change.

“The climate, always, is changing and the weather is never the same from one day to the next," Anderson said. "So, carbon dioxide has been a real culprit but I don't see it that way. We actually could use twice as much carbon dioxide as we’ve got.”

He continued, "I hate to think how cold it would have been a couple of months ago if we didn't have some global warming, it’s been a good thing to keep us from freezing to death."

Anderson's remarks stand at odds with the findings of the vast majority of climate scientists. A 2013 survey found that 97 percent of climate science papers agree that global warming is due to human activity, including carbon dioxide emissions. Those scientists have also found a number of harmful effects that would come as a result of higher carbon dioxide emissions, including worse heat waves, loss of sea ice and rapidly rising sea levels.

Matt Pacenza of the Healthy Environmental Alliance of Utah described the bill to KCPW last month as a stunt.

“We read this, plain and simple, as a bid from someone who, you know, probably thinks that climate change is a myth and is opposed to any efforts to be energy-efficient and move away from dirty coal and embrace mass transit and do all the things that so many folks think are a good idea," he said.

Members of the state's House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee voted to hold the bill.


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