Democrat introduces bill to prevent presidents from nuking hurricanes

a satellite photo of a hurricane from space

A House Democrat has introduced a bill that would ban presidents or other federal officials from using nuclear bombs in an attempt to alter weather patterns.

Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas) told The Washington Post in an interview published Tuesday that her bill was in response to a report from August that President Trump had inquired about using such weapons against hurricanes. Trump later denied the report.

The Climate Change and Hurricane Correlation and Strategy Act, which Garcia introduced June 1, would bar the president or other federal officials from using either a nuclear bomb or any other “strategic weapon” for “altering weather patterns or addressing climate change.”

Garcia told the Post she introduced the measure in response to an Axios report from August that said Trump had discussed the idea with senior homeland and national security advisers. Trump lashed out at the report at the time, calling it “phony” and saying such an inquiry “never happened.”

The House bill has no co-sponsors, hearing date or corresponding Senate legislation and is unlikely to make it out of committee, but it has been referred to the House Armed Services, Energy and Commerce, and Science, Space and Technology committees.

“When I heard our president suggest that we needed to launch a nuclear weapon to disrupt a hurricane, my first thought was that’s a really dumb idea,” Garcia told the Post. “When we did the research, we found that others have thought of that idea before.”

Hurricane experts have argued such a step would likely have little effect on a hurricane.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration frequently asked questions page states that a hurricane releases energy comparable to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb once every 20 minutes.

Current law would likely allow a president to take such a step, regardless of its wisdom or effectiveness, according to Scott Sagan, a professor of political science at Stanford University, who told the Post that the Partial Test Ban Treaty would not ban such a move.

“It would be a stupid thing to do, but it would not be an illegal thing to do,” he told the newspaper.

Tags Donald Trump hurricanes Sylvia Garcia
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