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Kentucky governor says teen climate activist 'ill-informed'

Posted at 5:52 PM, Sep 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-24 17:52:51-04

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin touted the reliability of fossil fuels and called teen climate activist Greta Thunberg "remarkably ill-informed" during a conference on energy.

Bevin was asked about the 16-year-old Swedish activist on Tuesday after he gave a keynote address at the annual meeting of the Southern States Energy Board in Louisville. Bevin said Thunberg is "an intelligent woman, young woman, she's very emotional, she's very passionate and she's remarkably ill-informed."

The day before, the teen gave an impassioned speech at the United Nations urging action on climate change. Thunberg told world leaders that "we are in the beginning of a mass extinction and yet all you can talk about is money. You are failing us."

President Donald Trump appeared to mock her speech on social media. Trump posted a video of Thunberg's speech along with a tongue-in-cheek comment: "She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!"

Bevin said the U.S. shouldn't rush into replacing fossil fuels like coal and natural gas with renewable energy. Kentucky is one of the largest coal-producing states in the nation.

Bevin said activists like Thunberg lack historical and global perspective and have grown up in a world where electricity is affordable and on-demand.

He said he is concerned that renewables may not be able to keep pace if electricity demand increases as utilities move away from burning fossil fuels.

"Renewables cannot come close to meeting demand as it increases around the world," Bevin said.

Drew Foley of the Kentucky Sierra Club disagreed, and said the science tells a different story.

"We have no choice. We have to move off fossil fuels if the species wants to survive," said Foley, chair of the club's Greater Louisville Group. Another factor, he said, is reducing the carbon footprint. "We don't need this much energy."

As for Thunberg, Foley said, "She's wise beyond her years, in my opinion."