In his July 25 Opinion piece, former Congressman Gil Gutknecht defended Big Energy with a fervor oddly reminiscent of a late-1990s defense of Big Tobacco (Congressman’s View: Ellison's frivolous suit will only drive up the price of energy”).

The column began with an attack on Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison for taking on Big Energy interests with the help of attorneys funded through a New York-based fellowship program. It intimated a political agenda, even though such fellowships are common among young professionals, not to mention a deal to Minnesota taxpayers who don’t have to foot the bill for that portion of the AG’s staff.

The column went on to direct most of its attention toward what it claimed as a dubious scientific basis for anthropogenic climate change, based on claims from sources such as the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which is described by as “the United Kingdom’s most high-profile climate denier group,” as well as the Koch-supported CATO Institute (Koch industries is named in the lawsuit). Even NASA has stated, “97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.”

Perhaps Gutknecht’s position shouldn’t come as a surprise. During his time in Congress, he received over $175,000 from the energy sector, according to In 2018, he based a climate science-denying commentary upon a single Newsweek article written in 1975. More recently, he has promoted the views of climate-science deniers such as Patrick Moore and the founder of the deceptively titled website.

While the whole of humankind may have the power to change the climate of an entire globe, it is still not strong enough, apparently, to make Gil Gutknecht budge on his perception of reality. The Marlboro Man would be proud.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Shannon Peterson