Tennessee Republicans pass 'anti-chemtrails' bill, despite chemtrails not existing

Two commercial airliners emit contrails as they fly over London on March 12, 2012.
Two commercial airliners emit contrails as they fly over London on March 12, 2012. Photo credit: Getty Images

The US state of Tennessee has passed a bill that seemingly bans chemtrails, despite the fact that chemtrails do not exist.

The Republican-sponsored bill prohibiting the "the intentional injection, release, or dispersion, by any means, of chemicals, chemical compounds, substances, or apparatus within the borders of this state into the atmosphere" passed through the state's House of Representatives on Monday (local time).

It had already passed in the state Senate and will now be considered by the state's Republican governor Bill Lee. If he signs it, it will go into effect on July 1.

While the bill does not use the term "chemtrail", its language evokes the popular conspiracy theory. Several lawmakers also mentioned chemtrails while the bill was being discussed on Monday, the BBC reported.

Line-shaped clouds that follow aircraft across the sky incorrectly referred to as chemtrails are actually contrails, also known as condensation trails or vapour trails.

They primarily consist of water and are formed at specific altitudes when water vapour condenses and freezes around the exhaust from an aircraft, a bit like what can happen to your breath on cold days.

A confident female pensioner with sunglasses on a walk in town in cold weather.
Photo credit: Getty Images

The scientific explanation, however, comes from academics who, conspiracy theorists likely believe, are probably all in cahoots with every single airline in the world, as well as the sinister cabal that secretly rules the universe.

The conspiracy theorists claim planes are pumping out chemical or biological agents for various dastardly purposes like mind control, weather control or even population control. The theory is generally linked to other conspiracy theories, with believers often associating those behind chemtrails with nefarious entities such as the 'New World Order' or 'Deep State'.

John Ray Clemmons - a Tennessee Democrat from Nashville - jokingly introduced an amendment to the bill that would provide protection for mythical beasts.

"This amendment would make sure that we are protecting yetis, or Sasquatch or Bigfoot, from whatever this conspiracy is that we're passing in this legislation," he said in the House on Monday (via BBC).

Bigfoot; John Ray Clemmons; a yeti.
Bigfoot; John Ray Clemmons; a yeti. Photo credit: Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin; Tennessee House; Shutterstock

Alan Robock, a climate science professor at Rutgers university, reiterated the scientific reasoning that chemtrails don't exist while discussing the Tennessee bill with The Guardian - and theorised that even if chemtrails did exist, the bill wouldn't stop them.

"It's not going to make any difference one way or the other - how could they even enforce it? What if somebody did a chemtrail in Kentucky and it drifted over Tennessee? What would they do?" asked Dr Robock.

While the wording of the Tennessee bill avoids explicitly saying chemtrails, it instead focuses on solar geoengineering: theoretical large-scale actions to mitigate climate change such as dispersing sulphur into the air to reflect sunlight.

A report into solar geoengineering was released last year by the Biden administration, but it is not planning further, more comprehensive research into the practice at this stage, let alone carrying it out.

The Tennessee bill is said to be the first of its kind to pass a state legislature, but lawmakers in other states including Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Minnesota and New Hampshire have introduced similar legislation.