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Minnesota Republicans introduce legislation inspired by the chemtrails conspiracy theory

State Sen. Justin Eichorn, R-Grand Rapids, speaks in a committee hearing during the 2024 legislative session in St. Paul.
Minnesota Senate
State Sen. Justin Eichorn, R-Grand Rapids, speaks in a committee hearing during the 2024 legislative session in St. Paul.

Sen. Justin Eichorn, R-Grand Rapids, is one of the bill's sponsors, as is Sen. Nathan Wesenberg, R-Little Falls. Rep. Krista Knudsen of Lake Shore is listed as a co-author on the companion House bill.

Republicans in the Legislature, including Senate assistant minority leader Justin Eichorn, R-Grand Rapids, have introduced legislation (HF4687/SF4630) inspired by the “chemtrails” conspiracy theory.

The bill contains a mishmash of conspiratorial pseudoscience, including references to made-up phenomena like “xenobiotic electromagnetism and fields,” with just enough parroting of actual science to give it a veneer of credibility.

It requires county sheriffs to investigate citizen complaints of “polluting atmospheric activity,” and grants the governor the authority to call up the National Guard and ground any aircraft suspected of spreading pollutants.

To professionals who study and understand atmospheric science, the legislation bears all the hallmarks of the “chemtrails” conspiracy theory, which posits that airplane exhaust is deliberately laced with harmful chemicals for various nefarious purposes, including forced sterilization and mind control.

“Because the text of this bill focuses so much on electromagnetic radiation, you can tell that it is coming from the community of people concerned with chemtrails,” said Holly Buck, who studies geoengineering at the University at Buffalo in New York.

Lawmakers in at least seven other states have introduced similar bills recently. While most have stalled in committee, a Tennessee bill recently sailed through the GOP-controlled House and Senate and awaits a signature or veto by the Republican governor there.

Sponsors in some of those states have explicitly referenced the chemtrails conspiracy in discussing the legislation.

“If you look at a thousand planes, you won’t see one (chemtrail). But then all of a sudden you see one,” the author of the Tennessee Senate bill told the Tennessee Lookout last month. “So we’re just asking the question: Are they putting anything in the air that could be toxic?”

The Minnesota House version of the bill was authored by GOP Rep. Jeff Dotseth of Kettle River and co-sponsored by Reps. Pam Altendorf of Red Wing, Dawn Gillman of Dassel and Krista Knudsen of Lake Shore.

The Senate version was authored by GOP Sen. Eric Lucero of Saint Michael and co-sponsored by Sens. Glenn Gruenhagen of Glencoe, Bruce Anderson of Buffalo, Nathan Wesenberg of Little Falls and Eichorn, the assistant minority leader.

Some of the language in the bill is nonsensical.

“I don’t think xenobiotic electromagnetism and fields is a thing — it doesn’t even make sense,” Buck said.

The lead authors of both chambers’ bills did not respond to a request to define “xenobiotic electromagnetism,” or to provide a real-world example of it.

Among other things, the legislation seeks to ban “weather-engineering, cloud-seeding, stratospheric aerosol injection, or other atmospheric activity that is harmful to humans or the environment” as well as the emission of “xenobiotic agents” and “excessive electromagnetic radiation.”

It requires local law enforcement to “encourage” the public to monitor “polluting atmospheric activities” and report them to authorities. If any such report is made, county sheriffs and commissioners must follow up and investigate, “without limitation.”

It further instructs sheriffs and county commissioners to order the grounding of any aircraft suspected of engaging in “weather-engineering or other atmospheric experimentation that involves releasing xenobiotic agents or producing electromagnetic radiation at harmful levels.”

The bill also gives the governor the authority to call up the National Guard and ground any aircraft suspected of engaging in “prohibited activity.”

Taken at face value the legislation could ban all air traffic in the state, due to its apparent blanket prohibition on “polluting atmospheric activity” that is “harmful to humans or the environment.” Similarly worded legislation in other states has been shot down over concerns about the effects on agricultural operators, ethanol producers, radio and TV broadcasters, and other industries.

The bill has no chance of becoming law under a DFL trifecta and is highly unlikely to even receive a hearing. But the support of multiple Republican members, including a member of leadership, gives a sense of how the party might govern were it to return to power.

Minnesota Reformer is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Minnesota Reformer maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor J. Patrick Coolican for questions: Follow Minnesota Reformer on Facebook and Twitter.